High gas prices--reality check

qdognjMay 6, 2008

yes, gas prices are expensive...However, media coverage is making it seem signifcantly worse...if gas was at 3 bucks, people would be ecstatic, woohoo...at 4 bucks they are selling their suv's,biking to work, eating out less, buying no-name consumer products..

Now in reality,most people consume 20 gallons of gas per week or less..so the difference between 4 buck gas and the 3 buck level amounts to 80 dollars a month, and likley less then that for "most" drivers...hence, if 80 dollars pushes you to the brink of financial distress, you have bigger issues to deal with...

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hilltop_gw

I agree, partially; the direct out of pocket costs should be manageable if people take time to budget. However if you look at the big picture, there will be additional problems ahead because of the freight costs that will trickle down to all consumer goods.

We farm & until recently also had a couple trucks haul commercially. For the commercial trucking all invoices we billed out had fuel surcharges on them due to the cost increases. We'd buy between 5-6000 gallon from tanker loads numerous times per year and we were small scale. In bulk, the cost adds up quickly. Can't imagine the costs for large truck fleets & airlines--those costs get passed down on all consumer goods from food & clothing to the pet food & car parts.

Many people either don't, won't or can't budget properly, don't want to change their priorities or haven't saved to prepare for the higher cost of living and therefore they're the ones who could be hurting.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 11:29AM
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qdognj

No question about residual effects of higher fuel costs..My post deals soley with fuel costs for automobile owners...

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 11:36AM
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patser

As an auto owner who rarely drives (I use public transporation when possible), I'm not going to go broke on higher prices for car gas alone. I purchase 1 tank about every 3-4 weeks. In addition, US gas is still wayyyyyyy cheaper than gas in many other countries.

Giving a gas tax moratorium for 3 months is nothing in my opinion. Getting to the root of the bigger picture is very key to me.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 11:54AM
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kframe19

It's not gas prices that I really worry about.

It's my Mother's fuel oil bill for heating her house in Pennsylvania.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 12:00PM
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zone_8grandma

My post deals soley with fuel costs for automobile owners

I think that the other posters are pointing out that the effects of high gas prices are not limited to the transactions at the pump.

They affect kframe19's mother's ability to heat her house, they affect the price I pay for such necessities as food, and much more.

The so called "gas tax holiday" proposal is beyone silly. The federal gas tax is 18 cents - and goes to pay for road maintenance. The "holiday" while not benefitting the average gas consumer would cost over 300,000 people to lose their jobs.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 12:34PM
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qdognj

i recognized those concerns with the sentence you must have missed...
"No question about residual effects of higher fuel costs"

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 12:47PM
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jlhug

Qdognj, I can think of many scenarios where $80 a month would put someone in a postion where they couldn't pay their bills.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 2:11PM
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qdognj

jlhug,if the 80 bucks pushes you to the brink, your problems are MUCH larger then 4 dollar gas

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 2:39PM
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busymom2006

I've seen a lot more people walking their kids to school, riding their bikes to the store, etc. Maybe we've finally found the cure for the nation's obesity epidemic:)

As far as the gas tax holiday goes, every little bit counts. When I take my vacation this summer, it will be nice to spend a little less on gas.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 4:11PM
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duluthinbloomz4

I have to agree with qdognj with regard to this post. No one is disputing the fact that high fuel prices create hardships and collateral damage.

But for those who do not fall into the category of poor, working poor, or "on the edge" livers, the high cost of a tank of gas for the family car(s) usually means adjusting things temporarily to find new comfort levels. Adjusting might mean trading in the Hummer for a Prius - but then driving the Prius like there's no tomorrow because it's soooo efficient. Or it could be taking the bus once, maybe twice, then deciding it just isn't as comfortable as being alone in one's own car and well, frankly, the bus can't navigate the Starbuck's drive-thru.

If one has the luxury of being able to make choices (and I grant you, not everyone does!), there is probably a minimal amount of weighing any inconvenience or eliminating a desired nonessential versus forking over $4 a gallon for gas.

One thing we do is adjust well and somehow find ways to be prepared for the bar being raised higher and higher. Maybe there's comfort in knowing that someday soon $4 a gallon will be nostalgically remembered as "cheap gas".

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 4:14PM
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demeron

I was swiping my debit card to pay for my $60 tank of gas as my teenage son helpfully chanted, "Don't forget, six dollars in Europe, six dollars in Europe..." :)

It may be an odd psychological trick, but for many of us (me definitely) odd psychological tricks have as much impact on the balance sheet as number-crunching. Not forgetting that anything-- food, clothing, you name it-- that has to be transported is affected by a rise in fuel prices. The dollar is weak so other things are more expensive too. Personally I think it's good for people to think twice about driving when they can walk, scale down and make do with less-- so long as we don't end up having 1932 Redux.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 7:43PM
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jlhug

If you were living paycheck to paycheck with no frills but paying your bills, and something messes with your budget to the tune of $80 a month, it's a problem.

Sorry but there are many people out there, through no fault of their own, that are in that scenario. And there are many who have created their own financial diaster.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 7:57PM
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behaviorkelton

The residual effect is the primary thing that makes it matter at all.

If higher fuel prices makes *everything* more expensive, then that person's $80 problem is actually not just $80 at all.

What REALLY bugs me is that the OPEC nations are raking it in.... just by pumping stuff out of the ground.... and we are like their dependent children.

It is not a good situation.

We need a Manhattan Project style of effort to break our dependence.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 8:22PM
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green-zeus

And the reason gas is higher overseas is because of the taxes on it. With the value of the dollar being low, it makes oil expensive to us and cheaper overseas. So the six or eight dollars per gallon overseas is REALLY an added three to five dollars of TAX! Without THAT, gas is really cheaper there----or SHOULD be.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 10:14AM
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Brewbeer

$80 bucks a month is nearly a $1,000 per year.

This may not seem like much to those making 100s of $1,000s per year, but for those making only 20 or 30 $1,000s per year, it IS a lot of money.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 9:27AM
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green-zeus

My brother's monthly gas bill is over $200 just to go to work. I really worry about people who only make $10 or $12 an hour. How are they suppose to pay rent,insurance,tax,FOOD, and pay for gas too? God help us all.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 10:19AM
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duluthinbloomz4

I don't think anyone responding thus far doesn't realize there are those who through no fault of their own are being squeezed in every direction. And there's no denying that those who made bad decisions are being squeezed too. And ultimately, no matter what economic bracket one is in, we'll all end up getting squeezed in one way or another. Yes, it will hurt some more than others - we all get that.

When times were good and many people thought "up" was the only direction things could go, there was a lot of moving out to far flung suburbs. The economics of more house for the money, or intending to sell before the ARM readjusts, off set the longer commute to work, goods and services, daycare, recreation, etc. I had many co workers who commuted to DC from West Virginia, parts of Pennsylvania and from Maryland's Eastern Shore five days a week. I'm sure they're singing the blues now. And filling up those houses and driveways with furniture and assorted toys with a wallet full of credit cards seemed a natural thing to do.

Nobody really thought the bottom would fall out of the dot.coms in the late 90's, or the economy would actually start to tank, people would lose jobs, pensions, health care, houses. But it happened, and it continues to happen.

And quite possibly the oil producing nations should stockpile their wealth from simply pumping it out of the ground. After all, when the oil's gone one of these fine days soon, they've got nothing but a lotta sand. They'll need those umpteen billions to import foodstuffs from nations that can still grow things and are willing to sell any surpluses. Or we'll have food wars. The US doesn't have a divine right to the world's fossel fuels - we're just another in line with the other, albeit emerging/booming, economies.

I would really like to see our government take finding alternate energy sources seriously. Build a new refinery or two. Ford, GM et al. don't need another 20 years to eke out an additional 1 mile per gallon. Don't quite know what it is - people we send to Wshington are individually smart; get them together in the House or Senate and they become collectively stupid. :-)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 12:47PM
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western_pa_luann

I don't know why so many people think that low gas prices are a God-given right!

OPEC has a right to charge whatever the market will bear...and still our prices are among the lowest in the world.

I personally hope it goes higher so that we are forced to come up with alternative fuels, alternative energy sources, alternative whatever... to break our dependence on foreign oil.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 1:36PM
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marys1000

A guy at work is getting ready to buy a small fuel efficient car. Currently he and his wife/2 kids have one mini-van that he drives to work. It costs something like 80.00 to fill, at least twice a week, maybe more so approx 640 a month. A new little car monthly payment would be like 480. So he's looking at it like getting a "free" 2nd car. Not sure whether that really works with depreciation and all.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 8:40AM
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kellyeng

DH wants to do the same thing. He drives a truck and thinks if we buy a very inexpensive car (I can get a new stripped down Ford Focus with 35MPG for $8k with TT&L at cost thru one of my clients) the gas savings will make up for the cost of the car and therefore we get a "free" car. I'm not too sure of the logic. Anyone with opinions?

I drive a 5yo SUV and it only has 30k miles on it because I work at home. Gas isn't an issue for me and I think that is enough to mitigate DH's high gas bill.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 10:24AM
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stinkbone

The gas savings of buying another car will not offset the payment, maintenence, insurance, and gas - you do still have to buy gas for the new car, and going from 20 to 30 mpg will still cost that minivan driver 400+ for gas alone.

We lease, and I traded in my 14MPG full size SUV for a 36MPG Camry Hybrid a few months ago. We save over $350 a month (payment is $125 less and gas savings is rest). I thought the adjustment to a car from a big SUV would be harder than it actually was. I like how the camry looks vs. the hideous prius, and its loaded (although milage is 'only' 36 in 50/50 mixed driving). The little ankle biters like getting in/out the car better. Sure, we can afford to pay more, but the savings goes to the kids 529s. We do still have a 4runner for truck duty, but it sits 80% of the time. If you can really only afford 1 payment, buy a good 4 cylinder family car, and a cheap old truck for occasional grunt work.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 12:14PM
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joyfulguy

Quite a few say that gas isn't really much more expensive now than 50 years ago ... relative to wage rates, price of gold (except for the U.S. situation, where gold was artificially held at $35.00/oz. for most of a generation), etc.

But folks then paid for house, food, one minimal car (very few had two).

When we saw a reasonably sized boat being pulled down the road on a trailer, we figured it had to be owned by some company president.

Very few people had vacation homes: "cottages" were only for the wealthy.

As for the robber barons' asking price for oil ...

... why should a guy who, with a couple of dozen friends, figured out a system that most folk (and corporations) now need (consider essential) ... become the richest/second richest guy in the world ... within half of a generation?

What's "fair" (whatever that means) about that?

Plus ... as many of you know, the price of gas has been high in Europe for years.

So - who has felt it necessary, done the research, built the products and structure and built the manufacturing systems to make alternative energy systems available?

The Europeans.

Necessity becomes the mother of invention.

Should I have spent over $3,000. last year to repair a $2,500.00 car purchased a short while previously in good condition, that was about 19 years old with about 110,000 mi. on the odometer?

I think so - as it needed little in the way of materials, but a lot of work.

It takes a great deal of precious energy, and adds a great deal to not only pollution, but global warming, to build (and cart parts from place to place) to build a new car and bring it to the showroom ... especially since, these days, many of those parts are made of plastic ... whose feedstock is ... guess what? More of that precious petroleum.

When you walk down a store aisle - ask yourself how much gas all of that plastic could have made available?

When you take the top off of a bottle of water ... same question.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 6:30PM
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