My daily commute — about sixty miles — plus my entry about the Smart car yesterday led me to thinking about fuel prices and how they impact my bottom line. Gas going to four dollars a gallon doesn’t make a real difference in my commuting. certainly not to the point where I would move closer to work, change jobs, or change vehicles solely for the sake of saving money on gas. So I asked myself, “Self? How much of your daily earnings would you have to spend a day before money spent on commuting forced a lifestyle change?”
Here’s the math. All of my vehicles take premium gas, at $4 a gallon. I am spending less than $11 a day on gas if I drive my Mazda to work. This is my “worst-case” scenario, as the turbocharged four-cylinder battlewagon sucks gas down at 22MPG. If I ride my BMW to work I cut my daily fuel expenditure down to $4.80. A worst, I spend far less than 1% of my daily salary on fuel.
So at what point would I start giving a shit about my commuting fuel expenditures? I am guessing that gas would have to take up 5% of my daily salary to even make a realistic blip on my financial radar. I would complain about the cost of going to work, but the money I make would more than justifies the fuel expense. There just aren’t any equivalent jobs on this side of Richmond.
I think gas would have to equate at LEAST 25% of my daily earnings before I made a significant lifestyle change. I may move closer to work because I feel like I am wasting my time spending 90 to 120 minutes a day in transit. I may buy a more fuel efficient car because I feel like it’s the “right” thing to do. I may change jobs to something closer because I am fed up with my current one. But the cost of daily driving has nothing to do with that decision. And probably won’t unless we run out of gas and it skyrockets to $50 a gallon or more.
At what percentage would gas prices make you change your lifestyle?