Gas Prices and Our Budget

by mike on June 2, 2011

In case you haven’t noticed, gas prices have been a little high lately. I have seen lots of chatter online and had lots of discussions with people about how it is affecting your budget. I thought I would take some time to share with you how it is affecting Mandy and I.

We are very fortunate (and strategic) that we live square in the middle of our city. We can get anywhere pretty fast, which is really nice. It also means that we can keep the miles traveled down, which makes the gas stretch farther. During “normal” gas prices (whatever that is anymore), we can get by on $25 per week in our gas budget. That is for both of our vehicles.

Since the gas prices spiked, however, we have had to adjust. I now ride my bike to work (about 1 mile each way) every day, which I actually really enjoy. Plus, it has kind of become a challenge to me. I try to see how many days in a row I can go without getting in my car. The only thing that hurts me is playing sand volleyball on Tuesday nights because it is a little too far for me to mess with riding. Other than that, my goal is to not get in my car if I don’t have to. Even with that, we have had to increase the $25 to $50 every other week. So, we are at about $150 per month. I can’t imagine what it would be without the biking!

One final note about controlling and budgeting your gas spending. When you do your budget before each month begins, gas is definitely one category you have to kind of guess at. When Mandy and I started doing budgets, we would pull out our gas money each week in cash. It was slightly inconvenient, but really not that bad to have to go in to the store. In fact, many gas stations are currently offering discounts if you pay with cash! That’s pretty cool. For the last couple of years, we just write a check for gas cards that we can use at a particular gas station. We buy them through a fundraiser for our daughter’s school, so that’s the only reason we do that instead of cash now. The important thing to remember is to give yourself a designated, controlled amount ahead of time. If after a couple of weeks, it seems to not be enough, then you can go back in and adjust your budget. Just take some out of a different category and move it to the gas category. If you just fill up at will and put it on your credit card, you will almost for sure overspend on your budget for the month. That is where debt and/or overdrawn checking accounts come from. You don’t want that.

To summarize, there are two things I recommend you do to help with your gas budget:
1) Do things like bike, walk, or carpool to cut down on the amount you use
2) Budget ahead of time and then pay with either cash or a pre-paid  card in order to control the spending
Whatever you do, don’t just sit back and complain about high gas prices (in case you’ve ever noticed, I’m not a big fan of whiners). Be proactive and do something about it!

Photo Credit: herzogbr

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