How Are Gas Prices Affecting You?

As predicted a couple of months ago, gas prices are on the march towards $5.00 a gallon, and in many places they are already there.

It’s funny how things like this work – it was just a couple summers ago we were practically crippled by $4.00 a gallon gas. This time, it took prices reaching over $3.60/gallon for anyone in the mainstream media to even mention it.

I guess that’s how price increases go – we sort of become immune to their effect as we absorb the increased costs into our daily lives.

We drive less.
We don’t idle while waiting for the kids to get out of school.
We eat less, or eat out less as food prices increase.
We also tend to eat cheaper food, which unfortunately isn’t always the healthiest choice.

I drive a full-sized truck, so I’m very aware of increases in gas prices. Hard to believe just a couple years ago I could fill up my truck for less than $50. Soon it will take more than $100 to fill it up.

While I’ve considered downsizing, I’m hesitant to go out and buy a new(er) vehicle to save money on gas. From purely a financial perspective, this doesn’t make a lot of sense considering my truck is paid for.

For example, assume I bought something smaller and realized a $200 a month savings on gas. Assuming that new something costs $15,000, it would take over 6 years for that purchase decision to break even.

What I have considered doing is purchasing an older small car for my short, daily commute, and for running errands, etc. I would drive my truck a couple days a week to work and make any stops by the home improvement store on one of those days in case I needed to haul something home.

But what amount of “smaller, older car” makes sense for this purpose? After all, I still want it to be somewhat reliable since I need it to get to work and back. But I don’t want anything too fancy or the increased costs to insure it, maintain it and keep the tag current will eat into any fuel savings. You can see why this is such a dilemma.

For now, I’ve decided to look for ways to consolidate trips and improve fuel efficiency by changing my driving habits. I’m much more conscious of long periods of idling and rarely do I ever “take off” from a red light. I’d rather ride with the windows down than the AC blasting (unless it is the dead of summer, in which case I make an exception).

Sadly, I don’t see much easing in gas prices in our near future. In fact, I think it will continue to get much worse with prices easily reaching $5.00 this summer. Better to be proactive by making changes now rather than waiting for prices to go up another 30% and being forced into painful changes.

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