Two studies released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Transportation reveal another pattern in frugality which started when gas prices rose dramatically: people are driving less and opting for public transporation.  The first, released  in early December showed an increase of 2.8 million riders of mass transit, a 6.5% increase over the same period in 2007.  This covered the 3rd quarter, where gas prices reached their highest point (in mid-July, gas reached an average price of $4.117 according to AAA) before falling through the floor throughout August and September.

Despite gas prices dropping since then to their lowest point in 5 years (the Sunoco station near me is at $1.659 today for regular unleaded), there are still less people driving.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Americans drove 100 billion fewer miles from November 2007 to October 2008 than the same period the prior year.  A recent Gallup poll backs up this statistic:

  • Nearly two in three Americans (64%) report adjusting their driving habits in significant ways in response to surging gas prices earlier this year, but only 12% have reverted to their old habits as prices at the pump have plunged
  • 52% of Americans say they have not gone back to their old driving habits
  • 61% of Americans aged 18 to 34 and 62% of Americans aged 55 and older say they changed their driving habits in significant ways; however, Americans aged 35 to 54 are slightly more likely, at 67%, to say they have changed their driving habits

As a result, some have suggested that this will cause deficits in funds allocated for roads.  Road maintenance won't be necessary as often if the roads aren't traveled on as much, though, so I'm not so sure about this.  It would be real nice not seeing as many orange barrels and large lit up arrows during the summer though!

A couple of bright spots (aside from the lower gas prices) are that this ultimately is better for the environment.  In addition, there have been 10% fewer fatalities as a result of auto accidents in 2008.

From what I'm seeing, people are making fewer trips and grouping their trips (go to the mall, grocery store, etc. on one trip).  For me and many others though, staying home is the real gas saver.  Unless I'm going to work, I'm pretty much a homebody.  I had to stop at the mall last Saturday to pick up a late Christmas gift and the mall was empty, despite many after Christmas bargains.  I've also noticed in my driving that I've been sitting in less traffic jams.  Has the drop in gas prices changed your driving habits?

Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

Posted by Dave W. | Sunday, December 28, 2008 | , 0 comments |

As a follow up to yesterday's post, here is a link to an article in the Idaho Business Review where the author, Michael Tomlin, proclaims:

I know I am contributing to the problem and not the solution, but I’ve quit spending. In defiance of Barney Frank’s (Dem. MA) telling us to start spending to jump start the economy and re-create jobs, I’m cutting my losses and closing my wallet. And I am actually enjoying it.

Tomlin has dumped his Netflix subscription, stopped eating out and done other things to not "support the economy".  He goes on to say in his post:

Outside our little world we see restaurants closing, clothing stores going out of business, auto dealerships folding, electronics stores filing for Chapter 11 protection, and we know it is our fault. If only we were spending and artificially propping up these unviable businesses with emotional spending as we used to all would be okay.


But we are done with that. They broke the rules. Not these local shops, but the business world at large. The rule was always that greed is okay so long as you make sure the business makes money too so it can stay in business. This group of greedy took their money and ran the businesses into the ground, effectually killing the golden goose. Fools.


I’ll be hard to lure back. Cheap gas won’t do it, nor spiffier cell phones. My bikes are good and will last for years. I am happy to reread many of the books we have collected and they are far better than most film fare anyway. Nope. I can see that I am now the problem but this time I’m taking care of me and mine.


If this recession can’t be beaten by living debt free and within a budget then I don’t care to participate. And a warning to all those who would give my tax money away – I am prepared to spend a lot less still.

The comments on Tomlin's post we're, at the very least, very polarizing.   It appears in Tomlin's case, he is withdrawing from the economy by choice, not be necessity.  That being said, do you think he is part of the problem, or part of the solution?

Are you a "Good Consumer"?

Posted by Dave W. | Sunday, December 28, 2008 | , 0 comments |

Check out Neil Boorman's video titled, "The Good Consumer".  Boorman says on his website Bonfire of the Brands: "As an anti-consumerism campaigner, I’m frequently labelled as irresponsible when I encourage people to stop shopping. But the Government is being much more reckless, when they ask us to shop our way out of the crash. If ever there was a time to rethink our reliance upon consumerism, when the economic rules are being re-written, it would be now."  

Clare Short, former British International Development Secretary echoes his sentiment: "If we don’t shift to a less consumerist and throwaway society, we’ll hit crisis after crisis, and it’s coming soon."  

I love his Orwellian-like spoof of the "brainwashing" that retailers, government and financial experts have spouted that we as consumers have an obligation to buy new and buy often.  What's scary is that people are still preaching this crap even though this is exactly what put us into a recession in the first place.  So were you a "good consumer" before the recession and are you still one now?

Free Redbox Rentals

Posted by Dave W. | Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | , 0 comments |

I got this in my email today from Redbox:

As I always say, "If it's free, it's for me".  Since they already have my email anyway, I figured it wouldn't hurt.  So I signed up and they already sent me a code for a free rental.  Now if I can only find time between "Blue's Clues" and "Thomas and Friends" to actually be able to watch a movie, I'll try it out and let you know how it goes.

Better late than never...send this girl a Xmas card!

Posted by Dave W. | Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | 0 comments |

I just saw this post from J. Money at Budgets Are Sexy and even though it's December 23rd and won't be there on time, it's still a cool thing to do...

"One little girls wish is to receive mail. She has Cerebral Palsy. This is the cheapest easiest good deed one could do....This little girl just wants mail for christmas. If you can find it in your rotten lil hearts to write this angel a letter, I am sure Santa will be very happy....

Alexis Krosky
PO Box 195
Columbiana, Ohio 44408"

While many of us will open our gifts and complain about what we DIDN'T get, all she wants is a letter from a stranger. Mine will be in the mail first thing tomorrow morning!

Christmas Giveaways on!

Posted by Dave W. | Monday, December 22, 2008 | , 0 comments |

Didn't get the Christmas gift you want?  Maybe there's still hope!  Just go to, where there is a great post-Christmas giveaway going on until December 29th.  Among the goodies are an 8 GB Ipod, a 1 GB Ipod Shuffle, 2009 Tax Cut software and other great items.   Aside from the giveaways, this is one of my favorite blogs as it covers the whole gamut of the PF world. Regardless of your faith, you'll find a lot of useful information...go check it out and enter the giveaway.  

Daily Links

Posted by Dave W. | Thursday, December 18, 2008 | 0 comments |

Hey everyone, sorry I haven't posted lately, I have busy with the day job and my laptop crashed (literally, my dog knocked it off the table and broke the screen).  My goal is to be back to having one post per day by the beginning of next year.  I'm not going to call it a "resolution", because we all know most resolutions are broken by the middle of January!  And yes, there will be posts before then, in the meantime, here are some to keep you busy:

Ramit at I Will Teach You To Be Rich has just launched a $2500 scholarship for "social innovation".  The award, according to Ramit, can be used for a special project, service initiative, starting a company, creating a community organization, or any other entrpreneurial venture that scales to help others.  Also, you have to be in your twenties to be eligible.  Leaves me out, thanks Ramit, where were you 15 years ago?  

Trent at The Simple Dollar writes about The Two-Career Assumption, the dilemma where both parents are basically forced to work to make ends meet.  As a parent with a stay-at-home wife, this post definitely hit home as it is very much a challenge on a few fronts, not just financially.

And since I talked about goals earlier, Glblguy has posted his 2009 goals at Gather Little By Little.  

Until my next post, happy reading!