I think I’ve been pretty clear about this over the years: High gas prices are here to stay. If you don’t know how this affects you and your family by now, I think I could make a pretty good argument for “thinning the herd.”
Some of my friends and acquaintances are complaining to me right now because they are having a tough time making ends meet. I always feel so powerless upon hearing them, I know its hard out there, but I’m compelled to point out the fact that they don’t seem to be doing much to help themselves.
Most of these people have not curtailed their leisure driving one bit. I know it isn’t easy relocating to be closer to work, but there are certain logistical considerations at play when planning the rest of your life. If you live 15 miles from work, you drive a minimum of 30 miles a day. If your car gets 15 miles a gallon, it costs you roughly 7 dollars a day, times twenty, to just get to work. Thats 140 bucks, minimum. ANY LEISURE DRIVING BEYOND THAT MUST BE FACTORED INTO YOUR MONTHLY BUDGET.
In addition, plan to increase your monthly budget for utilities and food by at least 20%. Then re-figure your budget again. Eat less, or drive less, but the increased fuel prices will force you to make that choice, among others. We have so many tools at our disposal for keeping in touch with friends, email, video-phones, cell phones, etc, why not use these instead of the car once in awhile?
Most of use grew up during a time when Americans didn’t have to think about the cost of travel. The rest of the world did, and they built they built passenger railroads, bus-lines, and subways. We built suburbs, and highways. Until we make the inevitable transition to more accessible public transportation, we must protect ourselves by planning ahead in our own lives, and adjusting our habits.
I keep hoping that these higher fuel prices will bring about some positive changes in how we live. Perhaps neighborhoods will be rejuvenated by doing business closer to home…perhaps small mom/pop operations will flourish since traveling to big-box stores will be cost-prohibitive…perhaps theres a couple of guys tinkering in their garage, who will figure out a way tweak a car so it gets 100 mpg.
Believe me, I know that those of us with children are forced to do more driving than we like. I’m not making judgments about the driving choices people make, I’m saying that if you don’t factor in the almost 2oo percent increase we’ve had in less than 5 years, you are sticking your head in the sand, and something will surely bite your ass.
If you own a large truck or SUV and it is your primary vehicle….unload it now. UNLOAD IT NOW. I’ve never seen a weirder car market than what I am seeing now. Large vehicle’s values are plummeting. Older, fuel efficient cars are fetching ridiculous prices, but they are still worth the money, if you can trade. There are things you can do, even if you are carrying negative equity on your current vehicle.
* Someone on another blog called me Chicken Little today. I’m cool with that. If I’m wrong, whats the downside for me? If I’m right…whats the downside for you?