Monday, July 7, 2008

Have you changed YOUR behavior?

How has $4/gal gas prices affected your life? I've started to think about this recently.

Since gas tipped over the edge at $4.00/gal, my life has changed drastically. I don't drive anywhere that isn't an absolute necessity. I don't go into school unless I have something to do. If I can do it at home, I do it from home. Of course, I miss everyone. My already abysmal social life has gone from merely pathetic to absolutely non-existent. I cannot drive to Carbondale for parties, for dinners or movies with friends, for special shopping trips, or anything else.

Riding a bicycle to do random errands isn't an option for me. Highway 51 is not bicycle friendly. So, whereas I used to go to the grocery 4-5 times a week. I go once a week now. There are only two products that will drive me to the store if I run out: toilet paper and dog food. Otherwise, if I don't have it, I do without it. No soy milk but plenty of cereal? I eat eggs or oatmeal. I do a lot of shopping on the computer. It is often cheaper and more efficient for me to pay shipping charges than to drive to Carbondale to purchase things in local stores.

I drove to pick up my dog at my sister's in Richmond, KY. Just about 600 miles round trip. The trip that cost me $65.00 when I dropped her off 2 months ago, cost me $90.00 to pick her up. From now on, I'll be looking very hard at the pros and cons of kenneling dogs rather than having friends or family care for them--especially if that "favor" entails me driving or paying for other's gas. (I used to pay graduate students $10/day to care for Nevada and Jake. Now, volunteer caretakers would use half of that $10 in gasoline to get to and from my house.) While I am sure that they do a much better job of caring for my dogs in my home, I have to consider whether the job is worth THEIR time and effort. $10/day is an easy bit of money. My house is comfortable and well stocked with amenities. But $5/day? Hardly worth it.

I'm not sure how much our student fees are increasing in the fall, but I'm sure they are increasing. We are supposed to get (I believe) a 6% raise this year, but as we all know, the increases in fees ate that up two years ago. Coupled with getting squeezed at the gas pumps, and the increase in food, gas, and electric rates, and being forced to pay for my own research, things for me are as bad as they have ever been in my life.

It is very nice to say I should buy local fruits and vegetables to save money, but to drive to the Carbondale farmer's market would cost me another trip (add $5.52 to the cost of any produce I purchase right off the bat) and that more than makes up for the increase in food prices at Kroger. I am growing beans, tomatoes and peppers this year. I won't be giving any away. I have a feeling I'll be eating a LOT of tomato sandwiches this summer.

I expected graduate school to require some sacrifice. I didn't expect to have to devote so much thought and effort to keeping afloat. Having to worry about money every single day depresses me in ways that I can't even express. And perhaps more depressing is the knowledge that this is going to get worse before it gets better. The only way it is going to get better for me is if I finish or quit school and get a real job.

So I wonder, how have $4/gal gas prices affected your life? And do you have any $$ saving tips for our readers?


1 comment:

  1. Yep, we've made some changes due to gas prices. We're doing more biking around town and less driving. It's easy where we live in town, because there are stores close by and a free bus system. Plus we have a bike trailer that Cora loves and will request rides in when bored - makes it much easier to get around with her. We do still drive up the canyon to hike or climb, but Josh has been carpooling more for his climbing outings.

    I don't really have any clever ideas. We've got it pretty easy here. I'm not sure what we'd be doing if we were still living in M'boro - maybe a lot more working from home.