What's Bad (And What's Good) About $5-Per-Gallon Gas Prices

April 28, 2011

It’s no joke that Americans are feeling pain at the pump, with gasoline prices inching up to the $5 per gallon mark in some parts of the country.

Pollsters, pundits and the average Joe and Jane on the street all have their thoughts about what this bodes for our immediate future.

Here at FamilyCarGuide, we’ve come up with our own list of the bad and the good about $5 per gallon gas.

2011 BMW 5-Series Touring

2011 BMW 5-Series Touring

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WHAT'S BAD ABOUT $5-per-gallon gas

No surprises here. Who among us hasn’t already begun to have to make some tough driving choices because of higher gas prices?

Some of what’s bad about $5-per-gallon gas includes:

  • Restricted travel – Think of a circle of about 25 miles (more or less) that you draw around your home and that’s about the outer limits of where you’d feel comfortable driving on a daily basis. Maybe that depends on how fuel-efficient your car is or whether it’s a hybrid, but the fact is that the higher gas prices go, the less miles and distance many people will drive.
  • Shopping closer to home – Forget about that fancy mall a half-hour down the freeway if gas prices continue to climb. Ditto the favorite gym on the other side of the city or the little hideaway restaurant with the rave reviews that’s a good 50 miles one way. You’ll probably find yourself shopping a lot closer to home, even if that means foregoing preferred shops and locations.
  • Combining everything along a single route – When all you can – or care to – manage is driving to and from work and home, all your errands will pretty much need to be confined to that single route. If it doesn’t fall within your normal travel path, it may be off-limits – all because of escalating gasoline prices.
  • Drastically cutting back in another area – There’s only so much money in the family budget and if a larger portion of it is being spent on gasoline, that’s less money you have to spend elsewhere. This may call for drastic cutbacks in food, clothing, entertainment or other household expenses. The more you have to put aside for gas, the more this will eventually hurt other expenditures.
  • Everything else costs more – It’s not only gasoline prices that we have to pay that are going up, but everything else is costing more as well. From the food we buy to the clothing we wear, everything has to get transported one way or another and that means somebody is paying fuel costs – and passing it on to the consumer – that’s us.
  • Giving up driving altogether – Although not an option for most Americans, those that can get around without driving a car will probably find this a more workable solution. This may mean walking to the corner store (if there is one within walking distance and you don’t have to carry provisions for the whole family on your back), taking a bicycle, or telecommuting. But giving up driving altogether will prove onerous for most Americans, long accustomed to personal freedom and the open road.
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