Ask the Readers: How have higher gas prices affected you?

With higher gas prices being the norm these days, how have they affected your lifestyle?  Do you drive less? Have your driving habits changed?

From where I live to my work place, there are very limited public transportation routes, so driving my car is pretty mandatory.  Even though I still drive every day, I practice various techniques and strategies to save gas.  To start, as we own two vehicles, one is smaller and more fuel efficient than the other which means the gas guzzler sits in the driveway more often.  In addition to that, my driving habits have changed where I’m more conscious of the added gasoline expense.  I find that I’m little lighter on the pedal, checking tire pressures more often, and keeping unnecessary items out of the car.  I even look forward to driving/drafting 2-3 seconds behind large trucks on the highway as it will reduce wind drag on my car.  Note that drafting is not recommended for everyone as it can be very dangerous.

So back to the question at hand, in the era of $1.50/L ($5.67/gallon) gasoline, has your lifestyle or driving habits changed with higher gas prices?

Photo credit: AgentAkit

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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BankVibe
10 years ago

Even now, 2 years after this article was written we are at $3/gallon average in my state. People still drive and prices are still pretty high. For me and my family we have cut back on the amount that we drive and usually carpool with friends and other family members.

canabiz
12 years ago

I and the wife are car-pooling so we have not changed our driving habits. We only have 1 car so things can get dicey at times but we have always managed to work it out. We both have bikes at home so we can make a quick run to the grocery shop without relying on the car.

I am thinking of giving my current car (93 Camry) to my dad and get something else more recent. Thinking of taking a plunge and get something more luxurious like an Audi or a Saab, not brand new but something like 2000-2003 models. I have always been a Toyota guy but I guess you only live once.

paulette
12 years ago

I agree.The price of gasoline nowadays really is becoming sky rocket high.

Finance_Addict
12 years ago

The only thing higher gas prices made me do is to buy an oil and gas income trust as a hedge against higher prices. This was really the only option for me as the drive to and from work is too far (for most, including me) to bike. Transit where I am is not an good option for me either. To move closer to work to avoid a commute makes no sense for almost everyone. So getting monthly income or dividends from the companies you are giving your gas money to makes sense to me. I probably would have not done this if it were not for the high prices.

AlisonK
12 years ago

We got sick of the Calgary commute and the higher gas prices and moved to a smaller town in BC. Now we can walk everywhere, and only use our cars for large purchases or trips to the city. We now use about one tank of gas per month ($55 to fill, driving a Mazda3.)

I love to hear people complain about the price of gas, while walking around with a $1.50/litre bottled water…if only gasoline came free from our taps too!

daryl cognito
12 years ago

I buy gas twice a month. (honda element 4 cly) I am aiming for less next month. As gas goes up I drive less. I’ve also spend the last year arranging my work with in 15 km of my home. (I’m a community based social worker, I have to drive for work) We also decided to spend a little more on housing to stay in our area because the better half’s work and my main office is close. I walk or bus every chance I get and shoot for couple of car free days.

Sarlock
12 years ago

My wife and I have commuted together for over 5 years and have enjoyed our short 10km round-trip commute which includes dropping our daughter off at her daycare. Higher gas costs have certainly hurt when I put over $60 in to our 4 cyl Accord, but fortunately we only fill the car up every 2 weeks.

Ramona
12 years ago

We had decided that this was the year to drive to the Yukon, so we are in the process right now. We’ve gone about 5,000 km from the Toronto area and we’re currently in BC. It is truly awful to see how much we are spending in gas, even though we knew we would, it still hurts. We do a lot of road tripping as the husband doesn’t fly. I keep sparse notes on our trips, such as where we stay, how many km for the day, hotel prices, gas prices. To look at the past trips and see the gas purchases and compare to today is alarming. Everything else is reasonable – food, lodging, misc, but the gas…… Anyway we are having a blast and will have to do some budget tightening upon our return. No way were the high prices of fuel going to stop us from our mission!

Emily
12 years ago

I’ve definitely had to make some adjustments. Fortunately I live pretty close to work, but I try to combine errands, especially if I’m going to be in a part of town that’s far from my house. My family lives 2 1/2 – 3 hours away, and I haven’t visited them in months — I used to drive home and visit every other month, but those visits are mainly just for special occasions now (the drive to and from goes through a lot of gas, and my parents live at the opposite ends of town, so I have to do a ton of driving while there, too).

I also have majorly cut back on eating out and have begun cooking at home much more often. I really wish I lived somewhere with a good public transportation system, but all we have in Austin is a mediocre bus line that most people wouldn’t be caught dead on.

Gates VP
12 years ago

Guinness has a great line here: We structure our lives around not needing to drive.

My wife and I have done the same (voluntarily) and the cost savings are immense. I’ve spoken with lots of people about the issue and I honestly think the reason it’s getting so much press (and is such a crisis), is simply that many people have structured their lives around the availability of cheap gas.

Rant
People bought houses that were miles from anywhere useful, they took on jobs that were a long way from home without factoring transportation costs or time. They accepted jobs where no public transportation option exists, but then didn’t ask for a pay premium to compensate for the extra car cost.

I know lots of these people. Now they all whine that gas prices have gone up (like it wasn’t some foregone conclusion). I was telling people that gas was cheap at a loonie, I’m telling people that gas is cheap now.

But Mining sums it up: Apart from making a drastic lifestyle change or large investment in a fuel efficient car, the only easy change you can make is to spend more on gas and less on other things..
/Rant

Cars were already expensive before gas jumped, but we humans are really good at “ignoring” total cost of ownership. However, gas is like a weekly reminder of how much money we’re spending, so it starts to wrack our sensibilities.

Hopefully we’ll “tip” and start favoring far less expensive local and community-based lifestyles. Of course, that’ll probably raise the rents on the great places I’ve been living the last few years, but it’s a small price to pay. :)