Everyone’s Complaining About Gas Prices…

…but I’m not. Funny how small talk with people has shifted from the weather to complaining about gas prices these days. From the grocery store to neighbors to well, the guy pumping my gas! The reason I don’t really stress about it is that combined, the both of us drive less than 10,000 miles a year. I don’t track my MPG or even look at the receipt when I fill up. The sad thing is that gas prices can really affect those barely making ends meet anyways. But if you’re loading your groceries into your 4WD Land Bruiser or Ford Extinction, watch me not sympathize.

Anyhow, I should give some tips. Lots of good info at FuelEconomy.gov. Also save 10-15 cents a gallon by using a 5% cashback card from Citibank or Discover. If you haven’t noticed, I’m still a bit grouchy today. =/

Comments

  1. “…but I’m.”

    Jonathan, you’re missing a word there!

  2. gas prices going higher = stop going out to eat one or twice a month and there’s the difference

  3. When is the story coming?

  4. Secret Saver says:

    First of all, I drive a pair of high performance cars and still manage to pull decent (28 mpg highway) mileage out of my primary vehicle. Let’s see the idiots in their G*D D*MN SUVs do that. I don’t drive much either so the price of gas does not hurt me that much. However, there are some ways to get Gas Gift Cards at 15%-20% off (ie. Deal Pass sites and some others) which helps take the sting out. Also, if you are self employed or have an S-Corp/LLC set up you can write the cost of gas off your taxes. Here is a thought, you use your gift cards (purchased at 80 to 85 cents on the dollar) to buy gas, write off the full amount, you will wind up with gas costing you only $1.50-$1.70 per gallon.

  5. the problem i have with gas prices is that those gas companies made record profits last year. the prices arent because of supply and demand, nor is it govt taxation (which i wouldnt object to), it’s all profit mongering!

  6. Doh, justanother, how did that link get lost? I was probably in a rush.

    Check out the new link to a Ben Stein article about how oil companies are getting lots of profits, but they aren’t in control of oil prices.

    Everyone likes to blame the oil companies, but if they have so much power why don’t they do this every year. Oil is a commodity. The people who make corn can’t just charge whatever they want. There has to be a high worldwide demand for Corn for corn prices to go up. If there is, do you think those corn companies will be complaining?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Commodities go to those who will pay the most. The gas companies made money because of supply and demand. There is more demand than supply, so those that need it most will pay up to get it.

  8. ETA on story: 2 weeks. There are lawyers involved, so I’m not taking any chances until everything is signed and done.

    I love the comments on this blog, they are great.

    In other words, I think it *is* really supply and demand. We are not the only people in the world that need oil. But I think we as a country are the ones with the most ability to cut back on our oil demand. Many of us (not all) are like fat people who can go on a diet if we want, or we can choose to keep eating as usual.

  9. Jonathan, I like your “fat people” analogy! Really gets me thinking about the U.S. and the nation’s consumption habits…

  10. Anonymous says:

    I hate oil company profits but I hate these huge SUVs even more. So high gas prices are alright as long as they reduce these road hogging monsters.

  11. Wait what story? The story about losing friends?

  12. Anonymous says:

    You know, all of this makes me wonder when the gov’t will let us open pre-tax savings accounts (similiar to HSAs) to buy things like bikes, walking shoes, rollerblades or other things that encourage people to travel short distances without power. Wouldn’t that be the epitome of cool? Wouldn’t it also be cool if you could also use the account to buy produce, so that bacon cheeseburgers look less attractive? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

  13. Anonymous says:

    So what I am hearing here (and other forums) are people complaining and blaming high oil prices on “…these huge SUVs” and “…that those gas companies made record profits last year.” – But never suggestions for improvement…

    Take advantage of those huge oil company profits, and buy some of their stocks, but don’t blindly blame the companies (or the government for that matter) for the high oil and gas prices – they simply don’t set or control prices.

    The problem IS supply & demand.

    China is gearing up to create the equivalent of our Interstate system so their citizens can travel around their country in all their new cars.

    The granola crowd in the US won’t even THINK about allowing a company like Exxon with it’s billions of dollars in profits a quarter to invest some of those billions to build new refineries or tap into any of the US stashes of millions of barrels of oil.

    How about hearing some suggestions instead of all the whining? Jonathan, the 5% fuel rebate cards are a great suggestion.

    Even if gas hits $5 a gallon, I’ll still be driving my V8 Crown Victoria 85 miles to work and back each day with its awesome 16 mpg (city) because I don’t like standing next to hippies on public transportation. :)

  14. Hey becareful there with the analogy…First of all, weight is a sensitive topic…having grown up overweight, I sympathize a lot with weight…I do agree that folks have control over their decision to exercise and lose weight, just like buying gas guzzlers…but many can’t lose the weight, and many can’t help having large cars because of families or whatever reason.

    About oil companies and profits, it is true that they are making lots of money, but becareful in jumping into conclusions that they are crooked. Some business are by the very nature, but keep in mind Exxon makes lots of money along the entire process of gas production, from mining it to the gas pump…they are in fact “multiple businesses” in one…By telling Exxon or big oil they make too much money, thus are evil, you are in essense restricting and critizing the very free market that drives our economy…

  15. Anonymous says:

    “I hate oil company profits but I hate these huge SUVs even more. So high gas prices are alright as long as they reduce these road hogging monsters.”

    I’m sorry, but this is ridiculous. You’d rather pay out the butt for gas if it helped you not see as many SUVs on the road?

    If you hate SUVs, then I hope you do not drive a full size truck, because they are the EXACT same size, built on the same platform.

  16. it wouldn’t worry be if gas prices wasn’t the only thing high crude oil = to…

    unfortually it will equal to higher inflation of everything you buy from shipping, packing and, materials…

    it really sucks if you look at the big picture

  17. My opinion is that people can buy whatever car they want. To be perfectly honest, I might very well buy an SUV, who knows. But if you buy an SUV instead of a station wagon, then you must realize that you chose trendiness over fuel efficiency.

    I’ve been overweight and I *am* overweight right now. People CAN lose the weight. Otherwise, why would stomach-stapling work? If you limit yourself to a 2,000 calorie a day diet, I guarantee you can lose the weight. I’m overweight because I eat a lot of calories. That’s all there is to it.

  18. Of course that’s true…if u don’t eat at all u will lose weight too…All I’m saying is that it is a lot more difficult for some people, and to unfairly lump all “fat people” into a category is just, well, uncool.

    I do agree, it does get me when people complain after buying a jumbo sized hummer about gas though…

  19. I for one think the analogy fits perfectly. And I’m not excluding myself from blame. I don’t drive an SUV, but I certainly could reduce trips, trade in for an econobox hybrid, drive more conservatively, etc, not to mention I’m currently overweight as well :( but breaking out the bike and working on it!

    Which brings me to the idea for a pre-tax exercise account proposed a few posts above by an anonymous poster – BRILLIANT!!!!! A potential way to burn both the literal and figurative (with regard to gas usage) fat!

    Too bad it will never happen though…

  20. Anonymous says:

    I think the problem is the pickups and SUVs (the true truck based SUVs, not the reshaped minivans) that are purchased for no other reason than to “have” them. This probably encompasses 90% of these vehicles’ sales. Of those who really need and use them, I’d suspect that the vast majority of them are for work, which makes it a business expense. Otherwise, to spend all that money on a new vehicle to occasionally haul plywood, or occasionally go offroading makes little financial sense.

  21. Well, I’m sorry if I offended anyone, but I still don’t see how I lumped fat people together in an offensive way besides perhaps using un-PC terms.

    The average human needs only about 2,700 calories a day. People in rich countries (like ours) consume far more than this. This is the same with gas. You are most likely using MORE gas than you really need to do your daily functions.

    People react differently to extra calories: some get fat, some stay skinny. No, it’s not fair. But I don’t have Brad Pitt’s bone structure either. All I’m saying is, if you’re eating more than 2,700 calories a day, don’t use genetics as your excuse. You can choose to eat less or exercise more.

  22. It’s supply and demand. Take a bus. Move closer to work. Buy a more efficient vehicle.

    If you want to. If you don’t, prepare for the fact that eventually we’ll run out and we’ll have to pay a lot more or do something different than you’re doing now.

    I could care less about the price of gas. I’m on my 4th SUV and I know they aren’t efficient. If it got painful I’d do something different, but that’s my threshold. I’m also skinny, scorn fat people, and am 6′ 10″ and need a large vehicle.

    Wes

  23. Ah the gouging debate.

    I’ve addressed this on my blog too (I admit I own a fledgling oil company, but have absolutely nothing to do with the price of crude) and if you really think about it, so what if they’re gouging you at the pump?

    Q: What are you going to do about it?

    A: The same thing you’d do if they weren’t gouging you and the price was justifiably high. You’d quit buying it (or at least buy less).

    Supply and demand is a fundamental basis of economics. At some point the price will get high enough to drive demand down and supply up. At that point, the price comes down.

    Oil prices are driven by speculation on a commodities futures market (the same for wheat, corn, sugar, cows, pigs, etc). Traders are speculating on what the price of oil will be next week, next month, next year. If they foresee a potential supply problem in the next few months, guess what…

    SUV’s? If you can pay for them and you can pay to put gas in them, why should anyone tell you not to buy one? Are they an environment problem? Sure, all gas burning motors are. Did you know your lawnmower produces 30 times the emissions your car does.

    Losing weight isn’t that hard to understand. If you burn more calories than you consume, weight goes down. Consume more than you burn, weight goes up. Most diets don’t work because they try to convince you that it’s WHAT you eat that’s important (buy our South Beach diet food and lose weight!). WHAT you eat is not nearly as important as HOW MUCH of ‘what’ you eat.

    Sorry, this got a little long for a comment.

    -Grant

  24. None taken…It definitely is a person’s choice…anyway, I hope everything turns out okay with the issues you’re dealing with.

  25. I am glad I have Prius :)

    But still, I have to pay some extra with this hike.

  26. Thanks Financial – I don’t mean to sound so snarky. I know weight loss can be very difficult.

  27. Grant,

    No quesion, lawn mowers are not as efficient as modern automobile engines, but your figure of 30x seems a bit exaggerated. Would you kindly quote your source?

  28. I feel rather conflicted about gas prices right now– living in NYC I almost never drive, so it has very little immediate effect on me (though I know higher fuel costs will end up being reflected in higher prices for other things I pay for.) But I have shares in a mutual fund that invests in energy companies, and it is soaring!
    I think it is disgusting that all these oil execs are lining their pockets with record-breaking pay while normal people can barely afford their commutes… but I can’t help being glad I’ve made a couple thousand bucks on it myself.

  29. “I am glad I have Prius”

    I am glad I have Brad Pitt’s bone structure.

    Sorry, I couldn’t help it…this has to be the funniest comments thread I’ve read in a while.

  30. Chris,

    Unfortunately, the 30x figure (comparing the emissions of a lawnmower to car) came up on an NPR segment on the radio about the time of those “Big Oil Executive” hearings in congress.

    However a quick search on the internet reveals that figure may be low.

    http://www.peoplepoweredmachines.com/info/faq.htm

    The above source says it’s 40x. (Please note that this is a website trying to sell you a reel mower, so their numbers are probably inflated)

    Here is another source, but it doesn’t give a direct ‘x factor’ comparison:

    http://www.mindfully.org/Air/Lawn-Mower-Pollution.htm

    However, the power equipment people would like to dispute this (naturally it would directly affect their sales if people get the impression they’re killing the ozone by mowing the lawn).

    This source disputes it all:

    http://www.opei.org/newsroom/story_display.php?id=30

    Due to the fact that most lawn mowers are not nearly as efficient as cars, and the fact that I’ve never seen one with a catalytic converter, I can’t help but speculate that on a per-gallon basis, mowers are 20-30 times more polluting than cars.

    I apolgize for not quoting my sources in the original comment.

    -Grant

  31. samerwriter says:

    Chris: google for “lawnmower emissions”. Estimates of lawnmower emissions seem to be 30x – 40x a car’s emissions. Chainsaws and gas weed whackers are generally even worse.

    It’s always a bit funny seeing folks criticize truck owners. There are a lot of SUVs getting mileage in the low 20s. My 8000 pound Ford F-350 gets 18mpg. A typical family sedan gets around 24mpg; That’s not exactly a huge improvement over my mileage, and you sacrifice a lot of functionality with the sedan.

    The hybrid owners are even better; find one who is honest about the mileage he’s getting (many tend to report their best tank ever as “typical” mileage), and you’ll discover that a non-hybrid VW Golf TDI comes pretty close to or exceeds the hybrid’s mileage, without the “Look At Me, I’m An Environmentalist” premium and associated rapid depreciation:
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/high-cost-of-hybrid-vehicles-406/hybrids-vs-all-gas.htm

    As for the fat/gas analogy, I think it’s a good one. It’s as hard for me to convince myself to ride my bike 20 miles to work as it is for me to give up my morning donut. Ultimately doing both is good for my wallet and health.

    And oil company profits? If you don’t like to see them make money, then don’t buy their products. Pardon while I generalize, but people spend so much money on gas because they drive their kids to school, drive to the store, drive to the neighbor’s house, and then… drive to the gym to ride a stationary bike! Many drivers are willing victims of higher gas prices.

  32. Wow,

    Let’s kick the oil gouging debate. This really isn’t the place and it can go on forever.

    I recommend we focus on:

    a. what’s the best way to protect our wallets from rising gasoline prices (both direct costs and indirect costs of other products effected by rising gasoline prices).
    b. What’s the best way to improve fuel efficiency for our vehicles.
    c. What’s the best way to decrease fuel consumption individually, for our families and others who wish us to help.

    I for one am most curious about the use of gift cards to obtain gasoline discounts – how do you do it?

    Also, I’m totally on board the idea of having your business pay for business use of gasoline. I do it. It saves me 41.25% every gallon.

    Have a wonderful day,
    makingourway

  33. samewriter, it’s not fair to directly compare the mileage of gasoline and diesel engines. Diesel fuel is significantly more energy-dense than gasoline – so if the two engines have identical MPG, the diesel engine is less efficient than the gasoline one. If the efficiencies were identical, the diesel engine should get 18% higher gas mileage.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel

  34. clicclic says:

    A great way to offset the price of gas is to…

    Be a part of the fat dividends oil company stocks are giving out.

    In other words, buy on the dips either Exxon, Shlumberger, Encana, Petrochina, BP, or Royal Dutch Shell or whatever is into oil & gas. Even if you hate their guts. I would call this ‘backdoor economics’ but it has too many connotations…

  35. You guys are going out to eat ?!?!?!?!

  36. Anonymous says:

    “Which brings me to the idea for a pre-tax exercise account proposed a few posts above by an anonymous poster – BRILLIANT!!!!! A potential way to burn both the literal and figurative (with regard to gas usage) fat!”

    Would it be possible to start a letter writing campaign via these blogs? I’m sure Jonathan and the others reach quite a few people in quite a few states, meaning that we could reach quite a few congress people, local officials and PACs. This type of pre-tax account is a great political move for both conservatives and progressives as it can be used to address health care, the enviornment, personal fiscal responsibility and family issues (it can be GOOD for children to ride their bikes to soccer practice). And I believe that with all the problems we face, uniting over some common political ground is highly necessary.

    Plus, it would be great publicity for Jonathan and the others to be behind something that has the power to unite so many people.

    As for the fat thing, I have a BMI of 18, I love to eat, and I walk 3 miles a day all year round even when we get dumped with a blizzard. I love it! I can’t see why anyone would want a car just to run to the supermarket, the post office, the mall or the bank. You should all try it. You’ll feel really good and really unencumbered. If you have young children, so much the better; a long walk seems to conk them out better than a car ride!

  37. Let’s just make a pretax account that can be used for EVERYTHING/ANYTHING (not!)…we should just have a flat tax on ALL income. No FSA, no IRA, no HSA, no deductions – all those things do is work around the real problems and also give the fed something to do. It would get the fed out of our day to day business and let the market drive economics.

    I think the fed tax on gas should be even higher. Instead of putting the revenue towards more highways it should go towards public transportation, greenways, renewable energy, urban living, etc.

    I live in the Northeast and have opted to pay an additional 1.1 cents per KWh to have 100% of my power come from wind power/landfill gas. Anyone else doing that? Did you know you can do that?

    Wes

  38. I’m with clicclic…my husband’s pension includes some big oil and we’re better off for it. Thier success is good for us–and many others.

  39. Clementine says:

    I sat through a really boring discussion session the other day with a guy who was dry as could be but, boy, did he have some statistics. He says the Chinese and other developing countries are moving so fast that global energy demand is going to grow by 50% in the next 25 years so we (we are the world) need $6 trillion in new investment in oil and gas to meet demand. That comes out to be $550 million a day. I’m bummed.

  40. harry… where is that money going to come from? The only one right now investing the infrastructure more reliable and oil less expensive is the oil companies. They invest billions every year to expand oil fields, increasing refining dependability and output, etc. Maybe this country should support this investment rather than taxing it.

  41. Hmmm…I’m not sure what led you to beleive that I was in favor of taxing big oil’s success, andrew–I’m not. In fact, I oppose the WPT that a lot of people are talking about (it’ll just get passed on to the consumer, right?) My point was that I was happy that big oil was doing well because it helps my husband’s retirement package!

  42. I don’t see the value in the WPT either. It’s good that our domestic oil companies are making profits so that those who have invested money in their stocks will be able to retire comfortably as well as the fact that as long as they are profitable they will continue to invest their money into finding ways to tap our domestic oil sources as well as develop alternative sources of energy.

  43. JuneBug/Harry: It’s funny how people associate big oil with retirement. Big oil stocks are great vehicles for every age group. Especially now when you can get some of their (your) money back in the form of a gas rebate (dividends).

    Personally, I think “retirement” is a myth for ALL NON-MILLIONAIRES. Are you a millionaire? Then throw that B.S. term “retirement” out the window. Find something you love and do it till you croak…

  44. In my opinion, the best way to deal with these high prices is to a) conserve on a personal level and b) enact policy that encourages investment in energy diversity. Andrew said, “Maybe this country should support this investment rather than taxing it.” I couldn’t agree with this more… plus, like harry mentioned, any taxes are just going to get passed on to us.

  45. Sorry, no millionairs here. Exxon’s doing well, but not THAT well. :)

  46. SANDance says:

    Another good website to find up to date prices at local gas stations is Gas Buddy.

  47. Hello

    Why not join the rest of the world and grab a motor scooter? I overflow my tank with 1.30 cents worth of 90 octane. You can also.

    I mean we still have the cheapest gas for a industralized nation. We as a people are reluctant to change. We should have been conserving gas long before the price hikes. Don’t complain now.

    With enough commenters to stage a carpool. haha

  48. It’s too bad those greedy oil companies were not publicly owned, so that every time you spend $100 filling up your car, you could spend the same amount buying another share of the publicly-traded oil company. It’s too bad we couldn’t do this, because then, we would be able to share in those profits. And get a dividend. It might even pay for our gas! But until those greedy oil companies won’t allow anyone to share in their profits, I guess we’re simply being forced to buy their gasoline. And then burn it all up.

  49. Giovanni says:

    “Hey becareful there with the analogy…First of all, weight is a sensitive topic…having grown up overweight, I sympathize a lot with weight…I do agree that folks have control over their decision to exercise and lose weight, just like buying gas guzzlers…but many can’t lose the weight, and many can’t help having large cars because of families or whatever reason.”

    What a bunch of crap. It’s a perfect analogy. People are lazy and selfish, and that is the root of all these problems. Americans think that because they’re American they have an inherent RIGHT to consume as much fuel as they want. They refuse to acknowledge that owning and operating a vehicle is a LUXURY and that not everyone can afford luxuries. They can’t even manage their own personal gas expenses, but somehow they expect Congress to manage a nation of over 300 million people’s gas expenses. You know what Congress should respond to all these stupid petitions? “Sorry, you voted for smaller government, it’s out of our hands.” It’s funny how the same people who tout personal responsibility in their arguments against a healthcare system that would benefit all, but suddenly personal responsibility goes out the window when it comes to gas. A little backwards, don’t you think? According to these nutjobs, healthcare is a privilege but gas is a right. They are quick to complain complain complain but when do they actually DO ANYTHING to reduce fuel prices? You know how to reduce your fuel expenses? BY BUYING LESS OF IT. That means don’t have a family larger than you can afford. That means don’t buy a vehicle you can’t afford to operate. That means don’t decide to live 100 miles away from your job. That means don’t buy a truck for your daily commute.

    These idiots LOVE to scream DRILL DRILL DRILL! There was an F-350 truck with a bumper sticker which said something along the lines of “I’d drill through a panda’s ass for cheaper gas.” Ok, let’s say Congress lifts the ban on drilling in those areas, nevermind the fact that doing so will do NOTHING to gas prices, let’s say it happens. WHO is going to drill there? Nobody. It costs too much to recover oil there, so the only way it is profitable to do so is if oil prices are HIGHER, not lower. Durf. The fastest and easiest and best way to reduce your fuel expenses is to use less of it. If you jumped into a situation that made you dependent on oil products but did not prepare yourself to have the means to afford it, that’s your irresponsible decision-making, not Congress or the oil industry’s fault. You KNOW oil prices fluctuate. You KNOW about inflation. You KNOW what you can afford to pay for transportation. BUDGET FOR THAT AND MAKE DECISIONS ACCORDINGLY. If you can’t afford to pay $200 a week to drive to work, then live closer to work, take the bus or subway, or trade your truck for a moped that costs $40 a week instead. Don’t have 4 kids if you can’t provide for them. Don’t sit there and complain bout oil industry profits, Congressional drilling bans, or other such nonsense demands that EVERYONE ELSE make it better for you. You made your bed, you sleep in it.

    People are so god damn reckless. They go around shoveling crap into their mouths, breeding relentlessly, and guzzling down fuel. They think they should be able to get as fat as they want, use as much fuel as they want, spit out as many kids as they want, and pretty much just be as selfish and lazy as they want with ZERO consequences, and that not only should nobody criticize them for their stupid decisions, but instead they should pat them on the back and say “it’s okay,” while petitioning Congress to steal money from an industry with a 6% profit margin that only provides us with a finite and extremely difficult to recover product THAT WE WANT at a convenient location for just a few dollars.

    I have no sympathy for ANYONE complaining about the price of gas, when such a thing can only ever be a self-inflicted situation. Live far from work? Got a large family? Have a gas guzzler for your commuter vehicle? Don’t try to play the pity card on me. I don’t care. Those were your decisions. Live with them.

  50. I LOVE when people bash SUV drivers…When I remairried and had kids…add up hers, mine and ours…we had 5….never took 1 dime in Government help BTW…any ways…I was able to buy my wife a $20k 2yr old Suburban. Flash forward 8yrs….its still runnin…it still looks pretty good. Two points….
    1. Times have changed and cant afford a newer vehicle…yea…just say the word “Credit”…I dare ya
    2. Just wonder how much everything that goes into a new hybrid…from the materials to the building….adds in pollution?…I actually do wonder how long the offset to continuing driving the suburban would take…and dont say …not long…cause you would be wrong

    BTW…hows’s that “War for European Oil” that Obama got us in going?

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