It seems as if it will never stop. Just this week I was driving down the road and there were three different gas stations at one intersection. One had fuel for $3.23, another for $3.25 and the final station was $3.35. That is up from $3.17 just 10 days earlier. This is crazy! It used to be that Georgia had the least expensive prices of fuel in the southeast. Those days are gone.
Some of us can remember back to the late 70’s and early 80’s when a similar situation played out. Seems to me that the price per gallon was 80 cents to $1 way back then. That seems so long ago. At the time, I was just beginning to drive and paying my own gas money. Many of as in high school felt them impact on a little income. Others had the luxury of relying on mom and dad for their gas money.
Now it appears to be happening again. I am not sure what was driving the price up 25 – 30 years ago. Today, among other things, it is consumption here in the U.S and abroad like India and China. Additionally, in the summer months the EPA requires that special formulated fuel be required in many, if not most, metropolitan areas and that pushes the price up. Additionally, there are the taxes. Just today, Republican presidential nominee John McCain proposed having a fuel tax holiday in the summer months.
What can you and I do now to help us in managing our finances and, specifically, the impact on our wallets.
First, shop around. Be on the lookout for the gas pumps that typically have the lowest price. Sometimes, these typically will be the big box stores like Walmart/Sam’s, BJ’s or Costco. It may be your local gas station. It is tempting to drive until you find the cheapest and in the process waste a precious $3.35 gallon of gas. Find the place that is typically the lowest price and stick with it.
Second, reduce your usage. We are in the habit of driving everywhere at any time. We will drive home from work, find out we need milk and run back out to the store. After dinner we take the kids to soccer practice and while we are out we can stop at the bookstore. Ok, I am being a little dramatic, but bunch up your errands. Find out what is needed from the grocery before you leave work. Carpool with other parents to take the kids to practice. If you live in a more rural area, combine your trips to town to once a week.
What about carpooling or even working from home. Many companies today offer programs in these two areas for their employees. Today’s technology allows more of the workforce to work remotely and taking advantage of the program can help in saving on fuel expenses.
How about selling the “guzzler” and buying the more efficient, economical used car. A couple things come to mind here. First, you have to find someone who can buy guzzler. A couple of years back, when the SUV’s started losing their appeal, the definition of and SUV was “Simply Unsellable Vehicle”. That may be the case with many cars today. If you can make the change, while paying cash for the NEW used car – go for it.
Nothing is simple or easy, but we need to make sure we stick to the spending plan. You may find that with the fuel line item in the spending plan increasing, you will need to cut back in other areas to compensate. It is times like these that people begin spending beyond what they have coming in and it leads to debt – credit card debt. Keep in mind that when you are paying at the pump you are most likely going to find higher prices everywhere – the grocery store, the ball park, restaurants, clothing, etc. – everyone is feeling the pinch.
Taking your income, cutting back where you can – in your spending plan and in your consumption – will help you weather this problem. Hopefully, it will be short lived, but no one knows!
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