(HOST) Commentator Tim McQuiston finds lots of food for thought in the sharp increase in the price of gas – and even a little humor.
(MCQUISTON) Now that gasoline prices have pushed into the three dollar-plus range, I had to chuckle when I heard that some of the older gas pumps wouldn’t go higher than two-ninety-nine. Hey, if you can’t laugh you’d cry.
Like everyone else, I’ve discovered a few cheap places to buy gas. So-called cheap, anyway. Unfortunately, they’re all out of my way. And no one of them is consistently the cheapest. But with gas prices so high, it makes financial sense to drive around trying to find the lowest one.
Another thing I recently discovered, during a road trip to Washing- ton, DC, is that the price of gas was more expensive the farther south I drove. Each subsequent state was about a nickel per gallon more expensive. But this was right before Hurricane Katri- na. Who knows how high prices will go now.
But I have my credit card, which makes me immune to even the most outrageous gas hikes. How else could I, or anyone else for that matter, afford to drive. You just swipe your card and off you go. Later in the month you get your credit card statement, which you just pay along with your car loan and cable TV bill.
You almost can’t pay for gas anymore with cash unless you live next door to a 24-hour ATM. It’s just too inconvenient to carry that much cash around. This friend of mine just paid 45 dollars to fill up his Honda Accord. An Accord, for goodness sakes.
So filling up your car is becoming a monthly bill, like your mort- gage. Fortunately, interest rates are low, and the banks are still sending out offers for cards with super-low interest rates. That’s the, ah, good news.
On the down side, we’re not getting anything more for paying twice as much at the gas pump. If you were paying twice as much for your mortgage, for instance, you’d have twice the house. That’s why the hike in fuel costs is being called a new tax.
Another piece of bad news is that credit card debt will no longer be completely written off during bankruptcy. So anyone financially on the edge might want to put off getting that new gas guzzler.
And, finally, don’t expect gas prices to come down significantly any time soon. The tragedy down in the New Orleans area has only spiked an already upward trend. While the federal government did release some of our strategic oil reserve to refineries to increase supply, the very next day the price per barrel of crude oil actually increased, again.
This is Timothy McQuiston.
(TAG) Timothy McQuiston is editor of Vermont Business Magazine.