I Can Smell Hype Like a Fart in a Car.

Now that we have a car that we can (almost) actually use, Tobyjoe and I have started noticing and discussing gas prices. We’ve decided that using up an entire tank of gas just to move the car from one side of the street to another is a sure sign you’ve become a New Yorker. Although, the first and real sign is to not have a car at all and an even bigger one is to not even own a driver’s license, but I digress. We now have a car. And since it has reached heart attack age and is well into retirement we feed it the most expensive gas. It takes about 38 dollars to fill up our tank. And I wish I knew how long that tank lasted, city miles and road miles, but I haven’t paid much attention to that.

I have a question, though: given that the talking heads would like us to live in a constant state of fear regarding the rising gas prices, how much have you actually spent this year in filling up your car and how does it compare to, say, 2000? Do you drive less? Do you think twice about driving to the 7-11? Or do you just throw your gas fumes to the wind and go for a drive whenever you’d like? Has the rising gas prices really affected you all that much?

Another way of asking: are people paying out enough every year to merit the constant complaining? Is it a matter of $500, $1000, $2000 per year? More? Ours is probably $160 or so per year. That’s 2 or 3 dinners out. Getting upset about that would be silly. We’re New Yorkers, though, so we rarely drive (1 tank per month).

Is this all just way over-hyped? Prices today are $0.25 higher than last year. One thousand gallons is only $250 over last year. Ten thousand gallons is $2500. And that’s a LOT of gas.

36 Comments

  1. I average about 24 mpg and drive about 12500 miles a year. So that’s what? a little over 500 gallons? Over the course of the year I spend FAR more to heat and power my tiny home.

    I was shocked when I realized that the bouquets of flowers that I regularly throw into my grocery cart cost anywhere from $10-$25!!! I fear I don’t look at prices often enough. And now I don’t buy flowers every week.

    I’m just glad I gave up smoking and chewing tobacco. That shit is mad expensive. I’ve also economized on wine purchases. Instead of spending $30-$50/bottle I try to keep my purchases in the $10-$20 range (and cook with wine that is less than $10). And really, when gobbling up spicy thai food, K and I don’t need a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Chandon’s sparkling chardonnay is perfectly acceptable.

    Finally, I often buy 20 oz bottles of soda and water from a vending machine at work for $1.25. That’s $8 a gallon!

    If you ask me, at $3/gallon, gas would still be cheap.

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  2. What I neglect to consider is that while a rise in gas prices may not really affect me significantly, it WOULD affect me in other ways, as the price of fuel is factored into everything else we buy. That’s the problem with our commuter culture. We only look at the cost of fuel as it affects us directly at the gas pump. We don’t see that it also has an impact on the cost of milk, bread, and everything else that is distributed by truck to our stores.

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  3. Charlie – One of the things Michele and I discussed was the ‘hidden’ side of fuel costs but she didn’t bring it up because, honestly, very, very, very few people who complain about fuel prices ever (seem to) consider that side of things. I wish Missy was still at the BLS so she could tell us how much pork bellies and milk have gone up. Being as liberal as michele and i are, we only drink milk from cows who wander up to our doorstep, of course. Free range and all, ya know!

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  4. gas prices in france is even more expensive than what i pay in the states. btw to fill the tank of my acura mdx it use to cost me $29. the last time i filled it it costed me $42! to fill our little peugeot 307 costs near 60 euros. we do alot more walking here though so it lasts abit longer. but not much.

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  5. Momhow and I would spend about $3500.00 per year at the current price of $2.70/gal. Not to mention $3.30/gal. for the boat. Try filling up a 180 gallon tank feeding two Honda engines. We’ll be fishing off the dock this year just like the old days. Remember the snapper fishing?

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  6. awwww, I kinda liked the snapper fishing. Although in this day and age, they’re bound to be eating human waste and are therefore probably wise to consume. Then again, I don’t really remember eating them.

    I do remember crabbing! That was fun! Let’s crab.

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  7. Bob – Is that $3500 the difference due to the higher prices, or is that your total? Just curious.

    The boat, I’m sure, is insanely expensive. Still, I’m looking forward to fluke fishing, so you’re gonna have to fill it up at least once ;)

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  8. We could paddle! Work the triceps!

    Imagine blue fishing… where we troll? Holy sweet jesus we’d have to sell each fish for about 45 bucks to make it worth our while.

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  9. What’s the saying? The second happiest day in your life is the day you buy your boat, and the happiest day in your life is the day you sell it?

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  10. Ok, now that’s funny.

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  11. i don’t think comparing this year’s prices to last year’s is really that big of a difference. However, I think if you go back further, you’d see the disparity. I remember in 1998 seeing gas for $.97/gal down in NC somewhere. I don’t claim to be a math major, but I believe that breaks down to an avg. increase of 12.5% per year, which sounds pretty steep and while i’m not sure gas prices are different than inflation, much greater than the rate of inflation. Plus if i remember correctly, I was probably getting gas for $1.20 a gallon in 2002 and now we’re paying $2.80. That’s an increase of $.40/year averaged over the past 4 years alone. Basically, I think this is just one more thing that has changed for good. I don’t really expect to see prices down below $2 ever again. But I would like to be wrong.

    As far as my usage, I use far less these days than I used to since I’ve finally settled down in one location, I only have to travel 10 miles each way to work, and I lost my pickup to an accident a year ago and bought a practical Honda for $1000 cash. I also haven’t noticed the prices of food and other goods increasing terribly mainly because I only buy food when it is on sale. But I did notice that the IQF chicken breast(6.5lb) at Sam’s Club went up from 1.99/lb to 2.12/lb. But you can still find chicken on sale for 1.99lb at the food store. And before I get hung out to dry, I am, for the record, pretty liberal and I really do like the idea of chickens running free before I eat them and their eggs, I just can’t afford them.

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  12. Toby, that would be the total for annual miles driven – damn kids(boat counted as one of them) live too far away. We’ll do something about that next year – that is if the kids stay in one place for a change.
    Mihow, crabbing it is then.

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  13. Aimee, you won’t be hung out to dry. Knowing makes all the difference. Worry not, my dear.

    Sorry to hear about your pickup. I have often fantasized about owning one of those babies. Instead, I own a barely working volvo. Oh well.

    See, it’s different for TJ and I. We use the car for fun, basically. Sure, we use it to go to the grocery store on the weekend and to pick up things like laundry or whatever, but we don’t rely on it for work. I imagine, if we did, we’d feel differently.

    I do, however, pay 76 bucks a month on commuting via the lovely subway system. It’s pre-tax, comes out of my pay-check, but it’s gone up quite a bit as well. While I’d like to attribute that to gas prices rising, it’s electric. So I think they’re just using the cash to pay the MTA employees so they don’t walk off the job.

    Who knows.

    I’d have a hard time justifying owning a car like mine if I had to use it to get to and from work. Especially considering she might not work from one day to the next. But oh, how I love her….

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  14. oh, it’s worth it! I’ll give you my scenario if I were driving this car back in 2000…

    2000 – drive about 150 miles per day (100 of which is spent in bumper to bumper traffic) – fill up the tank about 2.5 times per week – each tank costs me about $25 – total annual cost is $3250

    2006 – drive about 75 miles per day (all of which is spent in bumper to bumper traffic) – fill up the tank about 2.25 times per week – each tank costs me about $40 – total annual cost is $4680

    The annual difference is almost 2 mortgage payments.

    And that’s just me – that doesn’t include my husband. For shits & giggles, let me do his…

    2000 – drive about 20 miles per day – fill up the tank 1.5 times per week – each tank costs about $40 – total annual is $3120

    2006 – drive about 60 miles per day – fill up the tank 2.5 times per week – each tank costs about $60 – total annual is $7800

    His difference is a little different because his miles increased (rather than decreased), so the ACTUAL difference is also 2 mortgage payments.

    Our mileage changed due to job changes and the fact that we can’t live in the city because we can’t afford private school and we need to live in a good school district. Besides that, the one time I lived in the city, I lived 8 miles from work and it still took me 45 minutes to get there because we have no true mass transit.

    4 mortgage payments later, we are feeding the cars and staying at home unless we absolutely HAVE to go somewhere! It stinks.

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  15. oh – and I just saw your note about the MTA being electric…what do you think that electricity is running off of? Fuel! The gas prices are the greatest affector of electricity prices. I only know this from professional experience.

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  16. yeah, that was pretty dumb of me. Hahah

    It all comes back to the cost of fuel, doesn’t it? Nuts.

    I know landlords all over NYC were bitching and moaning last year because of high oil prices. I wanted to punch them in the ass. At least they can afford to OWN A FREAKING HOUSE IN THIS WALLET RAPING CITY!

    I kid. Sorta.

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  17. my honey-man now drives my Toyota Echo = 43 mpg/hwy… I miss it! and automatics are for whimps (they are!)… My Matrix gets 28 on the hwy – not bad, but not stellar. I drive no less than I did before, but I have noticed a hit in my usual gas spending. My honey-man loves the Echo. A girlfriend of mine thougth it’d be fun (despite my pleas) to get an SUV (gagging) and her first week, she spent over $150 on gas… double what she spent for an entire month with her Jetta. Stupid.

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  18. yes, pickups may drink a bit more gas than a Honda, but try bringing a half-yard of mulch home in a Honda. Sad :( and stinky…

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  19. Annegelynn, without trying to sound like some liberal duchebag (which I am very good at, normally) I still can not not understand why anyone would purchase and SUV. Is it safer? Really? Does it help with all the off-roading? It seems that many of them are driven by 100 pound women who haven’t seen a dirt road since that time they lost their virginity in the back seat of a Nova. Is it the biggest latte holder in the world, or what? I don’t get it.

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  20. its so they can mow the “little people” down when they’re actually trying to use the crosswalk. However, SUVs don’t seem so obnoxious when I see a Hummer pass me on Cary St.

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  21. FWIW, the classic way to find out your MPG is to fill up the tank, reset the odometer, and then fill up the tank again a few hours later. your mpg is the odometer divided by the gap pump.

    the only way to find out how many gallons something carries is to read the user manual – i never had a car that was ‘dead on’ with the fuel guage. they always seem off by .5->1 gallons.

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  22. Jonathan – I carry around a little booklet and calculate every single time I fill up at the pump…taught by my mother :) I drove an mid-size SUV once and it got better gas mileage than my sedan does now, but it didn’t have enough room for us, so I got the sedan. I don’t think I could drive anything obnoxious, but my husband has his truck, so we are able to haul stuff we need to haul, and he needs it for work. I’d KILL for a hybrid anything, but we can’t afford one!

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  23. Nessa, you NEED a large car in Texas! Don’t youy get thrown out if you have something like a Mini? I kid because I love. I love you and Texas.

    In all honesty, I was amazed by the size of the cars along America’s great highway. We drove across the country in a rented mini van and it was an average sized car compared to the ones we generally came across.

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  24. I remember driving to Yellowstone in ‘95 in my Toyota Tercel and the price of gas in the park was $1.45 – and I thought that was mega expensive. I drove that car like a fiend and hardly ever spent more than $40/mon – a fill up cost about $13/tank. Today, filling the Matrix is about $35. Noticeably, I drive a lot less now – not just because I’m restricted for time, but I don’t drive out of state like I used to…and after some thought, it IS because of the gas/cost.

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  25. It’s too bad we don’t have a better public transportation system across the board, eh?

    Public transportation is so much fun! Come! Ride the L Train with me! It’s FUN! ;]

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  26. if one’s livelyhood does not depend on heavy hauling or one has a mess of kids (just an expression, coming from a mormon background – not meant to offend), I don’t see any justification for SUV – even if you want to haul a 1/2 ton of mulch home once or twice a year ever? … you can pay someone to do that and save literally a couple thousand at least by driving a smaller, more economical car. I hate SUVs – they disgust me and make the roads dangerous for smaller cars/drivers.

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  27. annejelynn, you had me at “mess of kids”.

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  28. i’m right there with you on the SUVs, but i wouldn’t haul mulch in an suv either. that would be equally as smelly. pickup truck. and they serve a much greater purpose than mulch. SUVs are in an entirely different category. i wish i had a nickel for every time i’ve wished i still had my pickup truck since losing it. in my opinion, it really is almost a necessity.

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  29. I agree with you 100% annejelynn. When I bought my car two years ago I seriously thougt about getting a macho SUV. After all, I have three kids and I regularly haul rugby players and lots of gear around.

    But the truth is that 99% of the time that I’m in my car, I’m alone driving to work. So I went with an Accord with lots of amenities. If I want to haul kids or rugby players around, I use my wife’s minivan. It’s not as macho as a truck, but who the hell does an overweight, bald, middle-aged man have to impress anyway?

    BTW, the minivan will be 6 years old and has a grand total of 36k miles. It doesn’t do much hauling since we live so close to where my wife works (and my kids go to school).

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  30. Annejelynn, I butchered your name earlier. I am a bad, bad person. Forgive. It was a typing error, however, and not a Michele with TWO L’s type of thing.

    Charlie, you had me at overweight, bald, and middle-aged.

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  31. hello my name is Meghan, and I drive an SUV…

    I feel so guilty but really I have to!

    Did I mention that gas is cheaper than water here. How screwed up is that?

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  32. Michele, you had me at “I wanted to punch them in the ass.” Sorry I couldn’t jump into the conversation earlier today. I love talking about gas prices. I was a big hit at Christmas Eve dinner (which is to say, no I wasn’t.) Rest assured I have been talking about gas prices at work. (Seriously, I’m working on a project related to gas prices.)

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  33. just an FYI, you probably shouldn’t be feeding your car the most expensive gas. The pricier fuels are basically just highter octane, which may actually be doing more harm than good to your older car (which probably wasn’t even designed for unleaded gas, but i haven’t seen ‘regular’ in a long time).

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  34. Keith, i wondered about that. I actually said it out loud to Tobyjoe. It’s funny, because every time we refill, we have problems starting her up for a while. (A while means the next four times after the tank is filled). Weird.

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