The rising cost of petroleum in the U.S. strains budgets and shrinks vacations. Individuals who already had financial security before gas prices ballooned are mostly able to cope by driving less or investing in an expensive hybrid car– maybe postponing that cross-country road trip as well.
For those people just now scrambling onto the job market without substantial savings or a trust fund, the situation seems bleak. You can't afford a car (plus insurance and gas) without a job, and you can't get to most jobs without a car. This conundrum is inescapable unless your city's public transportation happens to be cheap and accessible. Otherwise, fuel costs funnel the unemployed further and further into debt.
By some stroke of luck, a low-income earner might spot a Craigslist ad for an abnormally cheap, pre-owned hybrid car. This seems like the perfect solution to gas price woes. It only has one thing wrong with it: The battery needs to be replaced.
“That's an easy fix!” Not really. It can cost thousands of dollars to replace a hybrid car battery, which is probably why the owner would ditch it in the first place. This problem doesn't exactly give people faith in electric vehicles, either.
Gas-powered cars are a necessary cash-suck as long as alternatives remain impractical, but the future looks brighter than you might think. Infrastructure to support alternative-fueled vehicles is growing, with almost 10,000 stations spread across the U.S., and organizations like National Grid are continuing to improve it.
Research to improve car technology also progresses, hopefully reducing that whole battery issue as more electric vehicles pop up on the market. In addition, there is a push for an Open Fuel Standard Act, which would force car companies to phase out vehicles that only run on gas.
That cross-country road trip might not be so unfeasible a few years in the future. The same goes for that job with the long commute. Until then, hang in there, support legislation to make alternative fuels prevail and follow some of these survival tips if funds get tight:
1. Join a carpool network. These are easy to find with a quick Google search.
2. Invest in a motorcycle or moped if you can squeeze out the cash for one, at least for short drives around town. These are far more fuel efficient than most cars. A bicycle is also an obvious alternative, but may not be a good fit if your city has no bike lanes.
3. Become familiar with your community's bus or subway schedule, if applicable.
4. If leaving town for a business trip or vacation, consider ‘couch surfing' to cut costs.
5. Be both cautious of and gracious toward those kind individuals with the hospitality to lend you a couch or a car seat.
6. Don't hitchhike, for God's sake.
With all that in mind, happy trails!
The image is from FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Visit this website for more information on the Open Fuel Standard Act: http://www.openfuelstandard.org/
Some information for this article was retrieved from the Alternative Fuels Data Center.