Cost of living means a change in life
During the summer we watched gas prices escalate and fall. This continual fluctuation caused panic and relief so many times we eventually grew indifferent (so long as it never went over $4 per gallon). But when the prices were high, the screams for lower gas prices could be heard throughout the city.
Oddly enough, many of those same people would happily pay $7 or more for a six-pack of beer that amounts to much less than a gallon. It seems that people, especially students, can misplace priorities. We have complained about the rising prices of everything around us, but few take measures to reduce their costs.
With the rising price of oil, the cost for commodities rises as well. Take milk for example. The average cost per gallon of milk is $3.79, and while it is high, it is a necessity in many homes. A carton of eggs was once a meager $.79 and now cost nearly $2.
In fact, all of the basic necessities of life have a higher price tag, from groceries to fast food, from clothing to health care. If you haven’t paid attention to the prices at your local grocery store or favorite department store, take a few extra minutes to check them out next time you are there. Chances are you will find that the prices have jumped compared to what you remember.
The economy is wavering back and forth between growth and stagnation, with inflation as its current and consistent cohort.
While we are hardly in a recession-like state, the rising oil costs have made people everywhere open their eyes to how and on what they spend their hard-earned money. The days of driving long distances are gone for many, and air travel is almost too expensive to enjoy, aside from the fact that airlines have nearly eliminated the extras we look forward to. Even the quick jump in the car to run errands has changed how we live our daily lives.
Now a game plan must be devised when going out. Instead of a couple of short runs to the store and post office for example, we hold our plans to get everything done in one trip, using the most gas efficient route.
We can no longer be ruled by our whims and short memories. These are not the pre-9/11 glory days.
After speaking to several families in very different areas around Houston, it was easy to notice that each had changed its ways.
One, a retired couple living on a very fixed income, cut corners by making trips into town with neighbors, combining their shopping and sharing the cost of gas to make the 60 miles round trip. This is a common tale for seniors, especially those on Social Security.
The second, a middle-class family with three kids that lives in the Houston-area suburbs, saves by buying store-brand items and saving all errands when possible, so only one big trip has to be made.
The last family is young, without children, living inside Loop 610, big on socializing and will drive from one part of town to another to be at the next hotspot or popular restaurant. They cut their costs by hosting gatherings at their loft and shopping a little closer to home.
These families have all been affected by rising costs, along with almost every other family in America.
Since the gas prices have been lower, traffic picked up almost instantly and spending increased, which is all part of the fluctuation process.
With hurricane season not yet over, we live in fear of "the increase." When a storm takes on the waters of the Gulf, oil prices shoot up. As of Thursday, the price of oil was more than $120 per barrel. What does this mean for us? Higher gas prices, possibly going back more than $4 per gallon. Are we noticing a pattern here? Again, fluctuation comes into play.
We will continue about our ways, doing what we need to do to make what we have workable. There’s no other alternative.
Through feast or famine, we should all take a look at our lifestyles and make choices and changes that will make a sustainable difference, not only for our own lives, but for our community, as well.
In retrospect, it is hard to get too upset about it. Times have been much harder and most likely, before our time is up, we will see them that way again. All we can do is ride the roller coaster, enjoying the down slope and holding on tighter on the uphill.
MousaviDin, a communication junior, can be reached via [email protected]