Are high gas prices changing your spending or travel plans?

With gasoline prices hovering at $4 a gallon nationally, many Americans are making tough choices: scaling back summer vacations, driving less or ditching the car altogether, Associated Press reports.

An Associated Press-GfK poll shows the share of Americans who say increases in the price of gasoline will cause serious financial hardship in the next six months now tops 4 in 10.

Overall in the poll, 71 percent said rising prices will cause some hardship for them and their family, AP reports.

Some seniors are choosing a tank of gas over their prescriptions, AP writes.

Have high gas prices caused you to change your spending?

Have they made a joke of your New Year’s resolution to save more?

Are you cutting back plans for Memorial Day weekend or the summer?

How are you affected?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

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67 comments Add your comment

Destin Dawg

May 20th, 2011
6:21 am

take a drive to Carnival Cruise… entertainment.. gambling… LOTS of dining…. great bang for the buck…. just be careful not to break with bank with extra$ on your ” Sign and Sail ” card …. don’t buy drinks… book shore excursions thru the cruise line… just take a cab ride at the port…. Lots of FUN !!!

Ghost

May 20th, 2011
6:31 am

Nope. I worked hard in school and busted my butt in my career over the last 16 years, so gas prices are no biggie to me. Do I like paying $4/gal? No. But they’re not causing me to change any plans I’ve made.

Karl Marx

May 20th, 2011
6:45 am

Yes it did. I purchased a car which gets 40MPG. They can keep the gas and I’ll keep the money.

Shudow7071

May 20th, 2011
7:17 am

No shortage of gas here…just ask the wife

Homer

May 20th, 2011
7:36 am

The high price per gallon definitely makes me question whether or not I really need to make a trip in the car. I’m going to make one vacation trip in the car and that’s it. No joy riding to the mountains on the weekend or scenic Sunday drives. I bought a bicycle and will pass the time taking bike rides at the local greenway. I’ll go to the gym and the swimming pool instead of going on unnecessary trips in the car. That will be better for my health and my checking account.

biker1881

May 20th, 2011
7:42 am

The high price of gas sucks but at what price do we become slaves to our jobs and prisoners in our own homes? I rode into work on “Bike to Work” day today and it’s good to know that I can ditch my car on a minute’s notice.

If anything, I don’t do any lunch time erands anymore. Instead, I walk during my lunch break. That’s the only real change I have made. Other than that, it’s business as usual.

Iconoclast

May 20th, 2011
7:52 am

Spiraling fuel costs are making it such that it’s too expensive to drive my gas guzzler to the dealership to trade it in on something more efficient.

John

May 20th, 2011
8:05 am

$4 per gallon gas?? Heck, we as a nation have only ourselves to blame dating back to the first Tuesday in November 2008.

Mom in Villa Rica

May 20th, 2011
8:07 am

Not only has the price of gas affected our summer, but it’s affected our everyday lives and we own 2 (paid for) Saturns! We’re spending less on food and have cut out all entertainment. We gave up satellite TV. We make no unnecessary trips and have even given up church on Sunday night because of the distance to church. Our summer will be spent in our own backyard.

JB

May 20th, 2011
8:10 am

As a person who runs a business reliant in some respects on discretionary income (The Punchline Comedy Club), I hope that people looking for a break but reducing travel, will realize how much a break a visit to a comedy club is. On the other hand, on a week to week basis, all of the “extra” money that goes in to the gas tank can’t be spent other places.

native atlantan

May 20th, 2011
8:15 am

Im spending upwards of $100 per week to drive in greater Atl, and I can justify that, but I did postpone a trip out west to rent a motor home and see some national parks till later this year when hopefully the heat, and gas prices out west will be lower. Im also planning to head to south Fla in July, but cant find any of the dicsount seats I usually do each year on Airtran. I only have been seeing good rates for Tuesday & Wed flights, not Saturdays, and thats when I want to travel.

Jason

May 20th, 2011
8:23 am

I do feel it for many people. I recognize that there are many out there that are doing everything that they can to get by. However, for most people, even $4 gas is affordable, its just that they’ve either got other priorites with their money, or they’ve mismanaged their money.

But fortunately, we’ve worked hard to avoid debt, pay down our house early, and make good choices with our money. We value family vacation over things like cable tv, smart phones, texting, nice furniture, brand new cars, etc. We haven’t had subscribed to any of those things in the seven years since we got out of college, and a lot of people have laughed at us. But, we’ll be going to the Caribbean this summer and won’t regret it knowing that when we get back we won’t have to worry about a mortgage since we paid the house off. And yes, I do consider us to be rich, but before you get too excited about how I don’t understand what real life is like, consider that we’ve done this on two salaries averaging out to around $40K and $60K. According to the census data, this puts us a little over the household median income average for the state, but we’re still squarely within the middle class.

My hope in sharing that is to give encouragement to those struggling with gas prices is that most of you can find relief if you set priorities, budet with those priorities in mind, and beleive that you can live comfortably if you make good decisions. You’ll be amazed at what a difference a few years without low priority conveniences can make in your stress level when it comes to finances.

Also, please don’t mistake this post. I’m not in favor of $4 gas, and I beleive that a lot of that cost is due to poor policies and ideologies implemented by our federal government. Also, I hope you don’t mistake my intent in this post. My purpose is to point out that it really is possible for most of us to live comfortably during this hard time IF we prioritize with our money instead of throwing our money at everything we desire.

native atlantan

May 20th, 2011
8:28 am

In keeping in mind what I said above about being able to spend $400 per week on gas to drive locally, even though I am able to do that, I know the extra dollars Im putting in my gas tank is taking away money I would be spending in other retailers, or services. That for me and all of us is an added tax that we are having to spend our discretionary income to maintain, and it is certainly having a negitive effect on our local economy and each of our wallets.

livinthegoodlife

May 20th, 2011
8:33 am

It is a fixed cost that I add into my budget…. WE all need gas I just adjust accordingly if need be. I have been lucky so far. I think if we start talking 5 and 6 bucks a gallon then Atlanta will start grinding to a hault…..

Spoiled

May 20th, 2011
8:33 am

Its making me have to vaca with the parents again…Eeeewwwww!

TnGelding

May 20th, 2011
8:43 am

Well, my profound thoughts disappeared into cyberspace. You lucked out!

Nianya Cambridge

May 20th, 2011
8:43 am

Only daycationing for us this summer and it will be closer to home then last year; we’re not going into debt to travel; the sooner this country cuts back on its gas use, the sooner prices will go down; supply and demand!

TnGelding

May 20th, 2011
8:44 am

Stay and see Georgia! Buy U.S. Bonds! Prices will go down when we eliminate the middlemen, i.e. the speculators.

BRENDA

May 20th, 2011
8:50 am

My husband and I are pretty comfortable, so the prices only cause “mild sticker shock” to us. I fill up my car twice a week @ $70 per tank. I do wonder how minimun wage and fast food workers are filling up their cars. I realize that the prices must go down soon, or other businesses are going to suffer. How can a place like Dave @ Busters survive these days? How long will malls last? No one will spend money when it costs a fortune just to get there.

Road Scholar

May 20th, 2011
8:51 am

John: Bless your heart! Even if McCain was elected , it wouldn’t be different. What energy efficiency legislation has a Repub introduced, backed, and passed? Voting against the removal of taxbreaks for big oil isn’t it. Oh, and get used to it on two fronts. The price will continue to fluctuate and stay high due to supply and demand. Also, with the current repubs committed to run, President Obama will probably be reelected! Whine on!

Road Scholar

May 20th, 2011
8:58 am

I have intensified “chaining” my trips going to neighboring stores/places instead of a trip for each not only to save trips, but also time! We will go on one trip soon and another in the fall. Once we get there, we probably won’t move around much …just to relax! Last year we visited Maine in August and were in a different city for 6 out of 7 days. That was work!

the mic

May 20th, 2011
9:14 am

Yes, Obama has caused gasoline prices to soar and you notice he’s not conserving. This clown is definitely the worst president the US has ever had, by the time he leaves office, no one will be able to afford gas.

Concerned

May 20th, 2011
9:15 am

“President Obama will probably be reelected! Whine on!”

IF that happens you can expect our country to errode even further. I would much rather have Hillary back in the White House than Obama. His mere presence will continue our decline as a nation. I don’t think people are whining, the reality has set in deeply with most Americans that he is not good for our country’s future. He was voted into for office for “who” his is, not what is good for our country.

I agree that we would still face the same challenges regardless of who is in office, but the powers that be have no faith in Obama. You won’t see marked improvement until the folks that really run this country feel confident, and Obama is not that man.

Michael

May 20th, 2011
9:21 am

I blame George Bush.

Michael

May 20th, 2011
9:25 am

Why didn’t the repubs open up ANWAR for drilling between 2001 and 2007 when they had Congress and the Presidency? Because they didn’t want to. And they didn’t legislate abortion out of here either. What’s up with that? Are they lying/pandering to you? You decide.

N

May 20th, 2011
9:26 am

Jason,

Thanks for such a good post. It feels so good to be able to live on less and do what you have done.

Suni

May 20th, 2011
9:51 am

So far all the input I’ve read here doesn’t show anyone really suffering with higher gas prices. Which is pretty much a shock to me. So here is my perspective; I don’t make much money to begin with, even though I work hard and full time. I manage Every Penny I make to stretch just as far as it will go and then some. I resent statements like *People aren’t Managing their money well*, and that being pinned for the reason of so much loss in this Economy. Jobs are Few, Wages are Low, Taxes are High, people are out of Work, people are losing their Homes in Foreclosures…NOW lets raise Gas prices? Higher gas prices affect the prices of Everything! And result in higher costs for Everything! Not Only at the Gas Station! Food, Medicine, costs to go to work to make money to Live, just to mention a few. Raising prices on the People in this Country in this Horrible Economy, and then telling them to “Manage their money better, Eat less or Better, Drive less”, etc, is Not the answer to Recovery. While it may be the answer to supporting and maintaining a too large and inadequate overspending Government? I Believe Downsizing Government and implementing Controls over Government Spending is the fix to the problems. Not further penalizing the People whose money supports it!

How does higher Gas prices Affect me? At the Gas Pump I have to decide between the Gas I Need to get to work (no pleasure driving or trips included, forget driving to Church, or anywhere but Work) and what I will give up (food, medicine, laundry soap, what bill I can pay that week etc) in exchange for that. At the Grocery Store the higher gas prices food supplies pay are passed onto the Food and other necessary items on the shelves. Forcing me into buying what will last longer as opposed to what is Best and Healthier For Me to eat. I can forget Quality and Enjoyment of Life entirely. Trips to visit Family only a few hours away even. Vacations are a memory of the past. I’ve even invested in dollar packs of seeds to try to get enough to eat, and turned my whole yard into a vegetable garden. The way the Economy is NOW, I can keep struggling with higher prices and give up more and more necessities (food, medicine, medical care, All things I NEED), I can stay at Home when I’m not working, and I can continue to Hope & Pray things will get better, which is getting harder and harder to do….

livinthegoodlife

May 20th, 2011
9:51 am

OH god here we go. Fact is the US has 3% of the world oil reserves yet we as a country use 30% of the total oil in the world. SO, let’s do the math (I know Georiga it is hard for you sometimes thsi is the state that Newt is from) if we use 30% and at the MAX if we open every reserve, every off shore oil area can only drill out 3% (this would be over 20-30 years BTW) the gas price would, in essence, NEVER GO DOWN BECAUSE OF DRILL BABY DRILL!! If you don’t believe me just google ANWR debate..

Find Me - I Dare Ya

May 20th, 2011
10:16 am

It’s business and recreation as usual here.

MARTA Rida

May 20th, 2011
10:22 am

Nope, my wife and I have been riding MARTA and walking to work since arriving in Atlanta a year ago. Haven’t noticed the rise in gas and it doesn’t effect us except the price of products rising. Looking at buying a house in Kirkwood so we can be close to MARTA, shopping, and nightlife. Feel bad for all those idiots living in the suburbs that are forced to drive a car for every errand. Its nice living in a walkable neighborhood where we can enjoy this beautiful city!

Me

May 20th, 2011
10:35 am

I know that given our economy right now, even $4 is a lot for many. This is a good time to start thinking of alternative transportation such as carpooling, scooters, bicycles, the train, and yes, your feet. Gas in other countries costs well over $4 a gallon. We have enjoyed lower prices until now. It’s unfortunate that our gas prices are rising to meet the world market price at this time. I hate that it is affecting those who can barely afford it the most…

Carla

May 20th, 2011
11:07 am

I guess everyone having problems with gas prices are doing what we had to last year..cut our cable/internet service in order to manage with the rising prices of everything! Last year I could buy my bologna for $1..which will make 10 sandwiches. The Cheese was $1.60 maybe….bread always around $.75. Now, the bologna is $1.7, the bread is $1.50 and the cheese is $2.45…and it costs me more money to get to the store. And that is just a sample of a poor persons real, actuall thought process and budget with food. You tell me..how do I feed my family lunch cheaper than a gosh darn Bologna and cheese sandwhich? And, My van is over 15 years old..no I cannot afford to replace her..I’m just glad she runs. But it takes gas, so yes we think about every trip we make in our van right now because of gas prices. My Stepdaughter’s mother and us are in the same boat and the gas prices have affected the custody weekends several times on both ends because of no gas money for the travel back and forth. My husband is a plumber and his bosses gass prices have gotten so high that he is now loosing one day of work per week. Which, puts us even further in the hole. We have no car payments and no credit cards..we are just trying to live week to week and now the one extravegance we allow ourselves…cable/internet…will probably have to be cut again next week. Yeah, the gas prices are affecting our travel plans this year. And today. And tomorrow. And when I go to the grocery store..they are gonna hit me hard there too. Thanks government.

Phooey!

May 20th, 2011
11:27 am

Immanentize the Eschaton! (Those of you who attended public school may need to Goggle it.)

Road Scholar

May 20th, 2011
11:32 am

livingthegoodlife: Right on! And the conservatives think that increasing US oil production means that the oil companies will only sell the “new” oil to the US…at bargain prices! Methinks they will sell it to whoever pays the most!

Carls has a good point. Inflation, esp on food and comodities, has just started to increase!

Monglorp

May 20th, 2011
11:37 am

Just as soon as the Republicans took over the House again gas prices started going up again.

Dan Plainview

May 20th, 2011
11:51 am

“Have high gas prices caused you to change your spending?”

Yeah, I spend more. Been buying oil company shares for 25 years years, now I live on the dividends and cap gains. Every time they raise gasoline prices it’s more cash in my pocket. I love capitalism.

Carla

May 20th, 2011
12:14 pm

Ok, lots of misspellings but I was wound up. Just because I had to say it…I do spend a good portion of my grocery budget on Fresh/frozen fruit and veg…But some weeks we got to have a bologna sand or a hot dog to go with all that. And EVERYTHING that went up when gas prices rose last time, never went back down. And NOW it is going up again because of gas prices. When we get paid, we pay the bills that have to be paid first..then the essentials..have to have gas each week…have to have food. But at the end of the day when you have a budget of $60 for feeding three people, three meals, snacks and beverages for seven days…well, I dare you to do it without some bologna or hotdogs in your shopping cart.
Yes, I have mother’s guilt. I hate serving that preprocessed crap to my kid. But I’m at a loss. This has gone on for too darn long. I’d rather it be hotdogs than an empty belly I guess. Oh, not on government anything. Just trying to get by. We did also start a garden last weekend. Hope my dogs don’t destroy it.

Mary

May 20th, 2011
12:16 pm

I have not changed my travel plans. What I have changed is weekend errands. I now try to do most of them on the way home from work, and usually stay very close to home on the weekends. I’m 5 minutes to Buford Dam and there’s plenty of places at the lake that are free…..Numerous parks are close by if I want to take the dogs out…..and there’s always something to do in the yard. I’ll be planting veggies this weekend, purchased at the Suwanee Farmer’s Market…..

I plan on driving down to PCB with the family in July. We have already rented a condo and I’m looking forward to a week of relaxation with my entire family!!!!

JJ

May 20th, 2011
12:38 pm

@Carla – I hit Publix on my way to work on Mondays, and get a loaf of bakery fresh bread, a pack of Oscar Myer Ham, some Publix swiss cheese slices, some fruit and a bag of salad – average about $16/week for my lunches.

I have one child, home from college. I cook dinner every night. Friday nights are “Clean out the refriegerator” and we eat all the leftovers. On Sundays, we grill out with the neighbors. We cook enough food to last 2-3 days. This works great for my daughter, as she can throw something in the microwave for lunch……

I spend about $75/week on groceries for two of us, two large dogs and two cats…..

Carla

May 20th, 2011
12:53 pm

JJ..thanks..yes we do the same thing..Friday is “leftover day” pretty much a buffet of what is left over from the week (as long as it’s safe of course). My mom laughs cause with addins I can make a box of mac and cheese last three meals. I’m not trying to say that we are pitiful..it’s just that we have had to make adjustments when the gas prices go up. But, I was born to poor parents..I know how to stretch a buck. Just sometimes that buck just cannot stretch to cover everything. So, we do our best!

WGD

May 20th, 2011
1:17 pm

No impact here — We certainly don’t like paying $4 per gallon for gaoline but it won’t make any difference in any regard. We will still travel as planned; for both daily trips and vacations. For us, there is no reason for the price of gas to alter anything.

Bobby

May 20th, 2011
1:31 pm

I visit Oklahoma City each year to run a race and visit family. I’ve always flown in the past. This year I’m driving the 13 hours each way (leaving on Wednesday, returning Monday) rather than fly because even with the gas prices it’s over $200.00 less than airfare to OKC. At least I won’t be groped by some TSA agent at the gate and I can choose my own “food for purchase” along the route.

Don Nelson

May 20th, 2011
2:05 pm

Cut my business driving to 2 days per week, spend more time on internet communicating, any savings on gas has gone to my waistline. Staying physically active is challenge right now.

Scott

May 20th, 2011
2:37 pm

Will likely skip the bigger vacation and do some “smaller” things somewhat local like Stone Mountain, Calloway Gardens, Chattanooga, etc.

Art Thomas

May 20th, 2011
2:55 pm

We have reduced from 2 cars to one , monitor gas usage and mileage/ keep van tuned up (paid off in 2008 and use for 2 jobs plus our weekend business.)

When we travel via car in southeast we get rental cars especially if involve 1000 miles or more economical plus business deductible

We try to multitask when out so never just get in van and drive. My habits have changed from enjoying car to only use a necessity. I walk in neighborhood , when at work and incorporate my feet whenever possible!

Joseph

May 20th, 2011
3:16 pm

I just went from a 30mpg car to a 22mpg car, so apparently not

Destin Dawg

May 20th, 2011
4:51 pm

plan your trips, ride MARTA if you can, wake or ride a bike.. and PLEASE car pool.. when in ATL.. my wife and I can run 75 mph.. in HOV lane.. what’s up with that ???

Destin Dawg

May 20th, 2011
4:53 pm

Rapture

May 20th, 2011
5:34 pm

Well the good news is if you haven’t already filled up you don’t need to now. I just heard the world is ending @ 6pm tomorrow. Take that, Big Oil!

MarkD

May 21st, 2011
8:19 am

Don’t overdo the hysteria — particularly when it comes to that summer vacation. I calculated that for our 1700 mile, 1 week trip gas was less than 20% of expected cost. I used the vacation calculator in the cars section of http://www.yourmoneypage.com