It seems like every year, as summer comes and gas prices go up, we end up with several articles about how gas prices are busting family's budgets.
Single mom Esther Guzman is used to juggling her family finances. But lately, it's gotten harder to make ends meet.
So says the article, with a picture of Ms Guzman climbing into an enormous vehicle. But who can blame her? She has 4 kids and makes $11/hr with $400/mo in child support (meaning her ex is probably not making much more than she is). Having 4 kids probably wasn't the smartest idea in the world, but its a little late for that. But not too late to continue a cycle of poor spending and backwards priorities.
Recently, to help pay for senior pictures and a prom dress for her 18-year-old daughter, Esther Bonilla, Guzman was forced to pay less than what she owed for utilities.
You read that right. She didn't pay her utility bill because she bought a prom dress for her daughter. Apparently a nice prom dress is more important than having electricity.
Now my concern is, am I going to be able to cover the utility bill or the rent?" she says. "I can't cover all my bills; I really can't.
Of course you can't. But don't blame high gas prices. Yes, the prices are up, but you can't pay your utility bills because you bought a prom dress. Or take the "facilities assistant" who was driving 66 miles each way for a job that paid $7.25 an hour.
"I'm spending almost half my paycheck every two weeks on gas," Davison says.
No kidding! You make barely minimum wage, a wage that you can get just about anywhere (she likely has around 20-30 retail stores within 5 miles of her home that would offer hourly wage like that), yet you choose to commute 132 miles a day. She also goes to alcoholics anonymous meetings, but I suspect rather than attend a local chapter, she drives to another city.
Poorer families tend to live in central cities, but the strongest job growth in recent years has been in the suburbs, according to UCLA professor Matthew Kahn. From 1994 to 2000, the latest data available, there was a 10% increase in jobs in ZIP codes within five miles of city centers in the USA. In that same period, there was a 23% jump in jobs more than five miles but less than 25 miles from city centers, Kahn says.
Agreed. But if you are low income minimum wage, there are jobs everywhere. Go apply at Target; you need no education, start off at $7/hr, they are everywhere in suburbs AND inner city and if you live in the city, which the article says most low income families do, public transportation IS available.
"Those commutes aren't really well-facilitated by public transit," Raphael says. "Owning a car can actually be quite important."
Well yes, when you choose to drive 130 miles a day for no apparent reason.
Tyrone Vincent of Donaldsonville, La., estimates his 1991 Cadillac DeVille gets about 16 miles a gallon. The 48-year-old disabled veteran, who lives in a FEMA-provided trailer, usually makes the 120-mile round trip to New Orleans about three times a week to see family and to volunteer. But the trip has become too expensive, and Vincent, who lives on $2,400 a month he gets from the government, doesn't have the money to buy a new, more fuel-efficient car. He's had to cut back on trips to New Orleans.
What I wouldn't give to go on a trip 3 times a week. 16 miles to the gallon on a 1991 Cadillac is pretty poor. Can't buy a new, more fuel-efficient car? Why not buy a 1991 GEO METRO. It gets 40mpg and you wouldn't have any more 'repair' costs than the Cadillac, since they are the same age and in fact the Metro is probably a heck of a lot cheaper to maintain. You could probably sell the Caddy for the same cost of the Metro. Skip a week of trips to New Orleans and you'll have enough saved up for the taxes right there. Why do you have to buy a new car to get more efficiency?
At the end we finally meet someone who is struggling with gas prices, a mother of 3 who has cut back all she can and is facing medical bills.
The point? Yes, gas prices are up, but when you are purposely avoiding paying bills to buy prom dresses, take trips out of town every other day in a gas guzzler, and needlessly commute 150 miles a day for a minimum wage job, why is changing your spending/driving habits such a ridiculous suggestion?