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Daze of My Life: Survive to Drive or Vice Versa

Daze of My Life
Survive to Drive or Vice Versa

What a shame! At a time when the price of a barrel of oil has dropped 53 percent (as of Oct. 16th) from its most recent 2008 peak and gasoline prices have fallen to a 14-month low, so too has my family income declined, unfortunately, thereby preventing me from truly enjoying the advantages and benefits of paying fewer dollars for energy than I have in what seems like a very long time.
I suppose the bright side is, had the oil prices not declined so precipitously, my ability to pay/absorb them into the family budget - given the recessionary state of the present economy - would have been stressed and stretched to its breaking point, mentally and physically. And though I can certainly appreciate the cash flow-relief we're experiencing of paying one dollar less per gallon of gasoline, give or take, than we had throughout most of 2008, making less money has definitely reduced that pleasure not to mention reducing our discretionary dollars as well.
Sure, we're paying less for gasoline (and home heating oil as well, presumably, although we haven't received a delivery in six months), but since we have fewer dollars, the net effect; meaning the percentage of the budget (if we even had a budget) that we do have available for gas and oil is, not appreciably different than when we had more dollars but oil and gas was much closer to its all-time high than it is now.
Granted, things could be worse (wait a day, heck, wait an hour). Nevertheless, they just don't feel as good as such a significant drop in energy costs would lead you to believe they are. Yes, I'm paying less - absolutely, but I'm/we're earning less. At the end of the day (literally, not just the expression), my wallet is still empty. And just as money doesn't grow on trees (figuratively and literally, as it was pointed out to me by an alert reader), nor does it get electronically deposited into my checking account simply because I need it to be.
I don't mind working for my money (although, let's be honest), not having to work for your money wouldn't be much of a hardship, for me, anyway). But I do mind when the money I'm working for is basically gone/accounted for before I ever get it, if you know what I mean? The only thing that's discretionary about my dollars is how much I send to whom; that's my choice. Some choice! It's not exactly pick your poison, but neither is it pick your pleasure.
Unless of course one finds pleasure in spending every nickel they earn paying bills whose end does not appear to be in sight. Unfortunately, there's no magic in these mundane money matters. It's simply supply and demand, ironically, similar to two of the main factors contributing to the fluctuating price of oil and gas in particular and energy in general.
Often we're told, what goes up must come down. And certainly we are seeing confirmation of that old adage with respect to energy costs. However, I wish it was my income that was going up while those energy costs were going down, not both going down; that's not much of an adage. I can't afford to be "Even Steven, anymore." At the least, I need to be "Steady Eddy." At the most, I need to be "Dollar Bill."

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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