Friday, April 6, 2012

Gas Wars

The gas wars have come to our home. It is subtle, passive, but still present. At first I thought maybe we were alone in this. When I would read articles or columns from the “experts” they would claim that rising gas prices were not effecting Americans and their spending. This was exacerbating to read, seriously? We are the only family whose budget is affected by the steep rise in filling up our tank?
Each month we preplan how we are going to spend our income. We allot various amounts into categories: food, utilities, gas, entertainment, house, car, spending money etc. And over the past few months the amounts that we have to spend in most flexible categories are getting less and less with one growing, ballooning classification: gas!

Just a minor three months ago, my husband happily drove his vehicle everywhere he could. He takes the boys to a soccer clinic on Tuesdays and Daddy’s Exterra is much cooler than mommy’s mini-van, go figure. (This is where you are supposed to chastise us for our vehicle choices and convince me that a family of five should squeeze into a Nissan Leaf. But if you faithfully read Joel Stein you’ll know that most people only make green choices when it benefits them financially, more fuel efficient cars cost much more initially than a used car, or is something they can easily afford.) The boys can feel the testosterone emitted from this machine even at their tender ages. It is the preferred vehicle of choice. And I didn’t mind. I told myself, “Hey, that means I won’t have to fill my van up quite as soon.” My husband is a little slower at noticing rising fuel prices. But a strange thing happened this last month: the Exterra stayed put on Tuesday nights. My husband claimed the car seats were too arduous to move from my van to his SUV. (Both vehicles get the same gas mileage.)

I knew the truth: pain at the pump.

I’ve tried to compensate. I actually schedule days to go nowhere, just stay local. We live an average of 30 minutes away from most market centers. There are a few items that we can get locally. Over the last few years I’ve slowly transferred by loyalties closer to home: dentist, hair dresser, home improvement purchases, mechanic, and basic grocery. But, not all things can be purchased close to home. Nor are all things cheaper close to home. And so I am forced to venture out a few times a week. I try and combine trips. We do a lot of errands after church. I’ve started to invite friends over to our house, instead of going their way. I count it a victory when no one opens the van door or starts the engine. (Did you know that the Greatest Generation has been the most environmentally conservative, even more than today’s Millennials that supposedly know better? Cause: forced cheap frugality.)

A few times when I’ve had to run to the store to get milk or bread, I grab Hans’ keys instead of my own because I know what’s going on here: a gas war. A cold war. Tension. Anxiety. It’s definitely slowly down our personal economy and making us chose between gas and other things we’d much rather spend our money on. I know that this is a 1st world problem. I have perspective. I am blessed and grateful, but I’m also a little irritated when I hear that the rising gas prices aren’t affecting Americans as much this time around because it feels pretty much the same as it did in 2007. How about you?


Heather said...

It's getting us too. I make sure to do as much as I can when I am in town as possible, and stay home as often as I can too. I wish I could say it was going to get better, but I don't think it is.

Angelina said...

It is affecting us also. Especially with my frequent trips down to Albany. Im pondering a 5 mile range driving fast for the next year... Most everything I need is within 5 miles of my house. So, aside from necessary vehicle trips closer to home (like costco, since who can really get costco groceries in a bike pannier?), I am considering only driving if its outside of my 5 mile range. Mostly because its somewhat of a challenge. Plus, i have max stops within 3 miles of my house... Will see. It may be too much of an undertaking for the gal who is utterly dependent on a vehicle and often times too lazy to walk behind our house to a grocery store. =)

Rebekah said...

Well, I guess it gets worse that will force us to drive even less and spend even less and do even less...or just get to know our neighbors more. At least as the weather gets better there is tons to do outside and the boys play better when it is warm. School is always a good distraction.

Angie, I like your challenge. When we lived in Newberg I could also walk everywhere I really needed to go. It was me, two boys, and a stroller almost every day.