A few days ago, I drove by a gas station down the road from me that closed a little over a year ago. At the time, they made the price sign read $3.49 for a gallon of regular gas. I assume this was an attempt to keep people from accidentally driving in for gas, only to find the pumps turned off and the store darkened. But now it has the exact opposite effect.
Who would have thought that $3.49 would be considered a steal just a year later?
I find myself waiting just a little longer than comfortable to put gas in my car in hopes that the price might suddenly drop. No such luck. Today I watched my last two bars disappear from my fuel gage with several miles left for me to get to a gas station where I knew I would pay less than $4 per gallon. I held my breath as I passed each exit leading to the one I would take. My heart pounded with fear that I'd run out of fumes and end up on the side of the highway waiting for my free gallon of roadside-assistance gas.
When I made it to the station, I waited in line for 10 minutes for a pump to open. It appears I'm not the only one who scopes out where the cheapest gas resides (if you can even use the words cheap and gas in the same sentence anymore). I paid $3.91 per gallon for regular grade gas, and it cost me $43.90 to fill my Honda Civic's tiny little tank. That's the most I've ever paid to fill a car. Even when I drove a poorly tuned, 6-cylinder Chrysler Cirrus with a much larger gas tank, I never shelled over more than $35 to fill up. No wonder SUVs and trucks aren't selling.
I got out the calculator yesterday and figured out how much it was costing me to commute to work everyday. I drive 80 miles a day, round-trip, at an average of 35 miles per gallon (yes, I love my little Civic), I spend about $9 per day on gas alone. Not even taking into account the wear and tear on my vehicle, it costs me $45 per week to commute. That may not seem like a lot to those of you who drive less fuel-efficient vehicles, or who are paying more than $4 per gallon for gas, but for frugal, Civic-driving me, that seems like a fortune.
And it doesn't look like there's any end to the rise in prices in sight. With every penny that a barrel of oil goes up, there's more speculating and investing, pushing the price even higher. The summer vacation season is here, and demand is likely to go up. So how's a girl to get by?
I've got a few ideas, a few of which I'm not sure they'll fly with my boss, and a few of which I'm not sure I could live with.
- Work from home two or three days a week.
- Work four 10-hour days.
- Request that my company consider a gas-subsidy of some sort for those of us who commute more than a certain number of miles a day.
- Start selling my plasma.
- Live off of Ramen noodles until the price of gas drops below $3.50 again.
- Get a part-time job (one near my current job so that I don't have to drive any extra miles).