Carpool Contributions: How to ask for gas money

by EPI Staff on January 26, 2011

Q: My neighbor and I carpool. I do all the driving, but she’s never asked offered me gas money, and with prices skyrocketing — ouch! Can I say something?

A: You can still lay down rules, even at this point. Say “Janet, I’m glad I’ve been able to help you out, but with gas so expensive, I’d like some help going forward.” Give her a chance to say what she can contribute, but also be ready with a counteroffer. Say “I’m happy to drive if you’d chip in $20 a week and pay half the parking fee.” You can share the costs, or perhaps she’ll decide that she’d rather do some of the driving. Either result will be fairer to you.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Alicia January 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

Have you ever stopped to get gas with her in the car? I’ve found in the past that stopping to get gas with the person in the car usually gets them to offer to pay for the tank of gas because it brings the issue to the front of their mind. If when you stop to get gas with them in the car they do not say anything then the next time I would do as suggested above.

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AL January 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm

In certain circumstances, I disagree with the above answer. Did you offer the neighbor a ride or did the neighbor ask you for the a ride? If you offered to take the neighbor to work, then the neighbor is not obligated to pay you anything. After all, you made the offer. However, if the neighbor saw you driving and thne asked you for a ride, the neighbor should be contributing half of the expenses for the driving.

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Jody January 26, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Al does have a good point. Even if you did offer your neighbor a ride at the beginning, you can still politely ask her to chip in for gas. Don’t spring it on her as saying “today” or “tomorrow” but maybe something like “I’m sorry, but with gas prices rising the way they are, I’d like you to contribute towards gas.” There are probably politer ways to say it, you know your neighbor better than I do.

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Jen January 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm

You also might ask the neighbor (if they have a car): Would you mind driving part of the time? Then you can make up a schedule of what day they drive. This would help bring up the subject of splitting costs-especially if there are bridge tolls and parking to pay for. If the neighbor is down and out with money, maybe you could work out a trade situation-you drive and they can babysit for you or edit your resume. If this is a weekly carpool, I think money should be given to contribute. If this is a once every six months ride, I would just ask if they can drive next time.

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Jess February 3, 2011 at 12:19 am

There are five people in my carpool who ride together to school weekly. We each take turns drive each week to limit confusion. However, there is one person that has a 2 door car and has not offered to give gas money to us. No one really wants to bring it up. What is the best way?

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R. October 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm

As long as the owner of the 2-door car takes their turn doing the driving, there is not need to ask for gas money.

If you mean to say that he/she never drives and relies on everyone else, then I think it’s time for all of you to figure out the cost of driving the carpool for each vehicle, take the average, and then convene a meeting/coffee to talk about it. Personally, I think this individual should pay the average with each driver getting 25% of that amount to help with the cost of gas since this 5th individual is using all of you as a taxi service and does not take a turn spending his/her money to pay for a gas for a week to drive the carpool route.

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Cody October 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Consider this. Both of you work for a company. You live right beside each other. She doesn’t have a car, obviously she can’t afford it. You need to drive to that place anyway and it doesn’t cost you any extra. Suck up the costs as you would havve to pay it anyway

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bandana jo February 14, 2012 at 10:06 am

that is quite rude.

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nyrone April 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Why would you let someone suck up the cost? When you know you need a ride to work. This person will not offer or contribute to a ride to a job, they need……Wow !!! taxis are much more that offering of something, especially, if the amount is well over 20.00 a week. would you ride someone if you had to come out your pocket 150.00 in gas a week….Wow ! What Happen to Do Unto Others As You Would Want Them To Do Unto You….If it was temporary thing yes, but a every week thing, that been going on for a period of time…… it’s time to speak up.

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Frustrated Guy June 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I just hate it when you tell them up front, and they pay you the first few times, but then they stop, and you have to ask, again, and they pay you again for a while, then they stop.
I really really really really really want to tell them to f***ing go drive themselves. The commute is 100 km so it ain’t no chump change. I DONT WANNA BE A NAG!

End of rant. thx for listening =]

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Not Rich Girl June 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm

This is my situation: went on an 800 mile trip to a cousin’s wedding with a friend who’s family we stayed with close to the goings-on of the wedding. The WHOLE trip she says nothing about contributing or even that she may not be able to contribute due to tight finances. I drop many, many hints that the gas is costing so much and I’ve only budgeted for my portion(didn’t say in those exact words). Finally she says annoyingly, ‘do you want me to give you some cash?’ I’m thinking, well duh. But if she’s that stingy and can’t communicate why she cant contribute, then she must need the money more than me. She drinks/eats what I brought(yes, to share of course), I do all the driving, and she thinks this is a free taxi service to see her relatives? I don’t think so. Would you split a cab with a friend, or would you contribute half? Yeah, stingy people really bother me, they lack common generosity and sense! She thinks me being able to stay with her relatives for free basically pays her portion for gas….yeah, that’s not how it works, honey. You just got a free ride at my poor asses expense! The only difference is that I budgeted for it all and was hoping to get some reimbursement to defray the cost! Wow, some friend/human being!

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Winifred Rosenburg June 24, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I’m not sure what your question is but in these situations it’s always best to be upfront with your expectations. When the subject of you driving her came up, you should have said something like “Gas and tolls should add up to around $X so we could split that.” Yes, it would have been nice for her to offer, but if you look around this site you’ll see a lot of questions where people don’t know if they are supposed to chip in or not. She may have wrongly assumed that you were “hosting” her for the trip.

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Mel Mendoza February 9, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Hi

This is a carpool question:) So there are 4 of us officemates in this carpool. Our set up is we divide whatever the transportation expenses are by 4. Today one of our carpool mates who was the one who brought the car, brought his wife also to ride all the way to the office. Now, we are having a dilemma if we should include the wife in the division. And, if we do include, how do we tell our carpool mate. Appreciate your insights. Thanks in advance.

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Jody February 10, 2014 at 7:24 am

Mel — My suggestion is to wait and see if this is a one-time event or if it’s consistent. If the wife is riding with you all the time, I do think it’s fair for her to be included in the division. A good time to raise the question would be right before expenses are paid. If the rest of you are in agreement that the wife should be included in the division, one of you could talk to the carpool mate and say “since your wife is now riding with us regularly we think it’s fair she be included in the division of expenses.”

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Laura April 28, 2014 at 11:57 pm

I leased a brand new car for my twins to share to go to
School. I pay $500 a month plus gas.
Every morning one of their friends gets a ride to & home
Every afternoon. He never offers any money towards gas.
This is going on 2 years , how do I stop this?
It really frustrates me.

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Alicia April 29, 2014 at 6:24 am

You tell your kids they can not drive friends more then twice a month unless either they or their friend pays gas money. Or you add up the miles to and from school and a bit of overage say 20% and then only be willing to pay for gas for that amount of miles and your kids or their friends are responsible for any more then that.

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Elizabeth April 29, 2014 at 10:00 am

If you required your kids to pay for the gas, they would probably start charging their friend pretty quickly!

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liz July 25, 2014 at 2:18 am

so I started school 30 miles away and one of my classmates lives the next block over. he doesn’t drive and doesn’t have a car. I had offered him a ride home the first night, but now he expect its every day… and never once offers money…. he was paying$3 a day for the bus why not offer that to me…. but no. so frustrating. hes a sweet kid but come on im not his momma. and when im hungry I stop for food and im a nice person and offer to get him a $1 drink but instead he wants a large shake that’s $3 more… um… hello. and he just expects it every day and that don’t fly with me… 5 weeks is 5 weeks too long. but everytime I go to bring it up with him something happens… like his grandmother dying… sometimes some people are just moochers…. wow. I just need to stop being so nice cause it just pisses me off in the end…

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Alicia July 25, 2014 at 7:21 am

Stop offering things you do not want to give. So stop offering rides and drinks ect when you get upset that he takes you up on your offers.
Think about what would make you like this arrangement. Would gas money? How much? If nothing that is ok. But communicate what you want.

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Elizabeth July 25, 2014 at 10:54 am

When you drop him off today, you can say, “Bill, I just want to let you know that if you want to keep riding with me, I’m going to need some gas money, $3 per day. Also, if we stop to get food, you’re going to need your own money for it because I’m no longer going to treat.”

Or, if today you stop in the drive thru, when it comes to pay, look at him and say, “since I’ve been treating the last few times, I thought you’d want to get it today.” Then just keep looking at him. If he protests, then just tell the drive-thru guy you only want what you ordered for you, could he please take off the large coke.

This person can only take advantage of you because you let him.

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siti September 9, 2014 at 2:22 am

It is only common courtesy. No matter what…..best to just chip in. What ever the amount. It just show that you have manners. If the person does not want cash( for what ever reason !) give him or her a gift on her birthday or if you go travelling.
Frankly, I dont mind the car pool but it is the waiting for the other person that I dont enjoy :(

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anna September 19, 2014 at 3:03 pm

this is my dilemma. I just started college and my sister and I carpool with two other people everyday in the morning to the same school and every other day I take them both home. I only get paid every other week from work and not a whole lot either. every week I have to fill up my car which is $40 just for half a tank and since gas is expensive they haven’t even offered to ask to pay for some gas even though they were the ones who came up with the carpooling idea . its not fun waiting for them to get to my house in the mornings either some days since they are late sometimes. I’m not sure how to ask them to contribute for the gas since they are really close to me.

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Jody September 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Anna — Sounds like the carpool needs some new rules. The next time you’re all together you can say that unfortunately due to the high cost of gasoline you’ll need to ask all carpool participants to chip in for gas. If they don’t want to do that, maybe they can drive some days so that everybody ends up “paying” the same amount.

You can also let them know that you really need them to be on time in the morning if they want a ride because they’re making you late, and that if they’re not there on time you’ll need to leave without them. Make sure you stick to that statement and they’ll either get the message or find their own ride. (it’s what I had to do with my roommate)

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Lori C September 19, 2014 at 5:42 pm

The purpose of carpooling is to share expenses. (it also takes cars off the road, frees up parking and helps with pollution) Have a conversation with both of these friends and your sister. Let them know if they would like continue to ride with you, you expect them to pay their fair share of gas and parking. Tell them how much money they need to give you upfront each week. Also let them know in order not to be late, you will be leaving at X time. If they cannot arrive by X time, you will be leaving without them. No one can take advantage of you without your permission.

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