Thursday, June 12, 2008

Paying through the hose

As gas prices officially busted the $4 mark here in Indiana ($4.19 is the standard figure today - luckily I filled up at $3.92 yesterday), it got me thinking about a cross-country trip with my dad some 30 years ago.

We went from Indiana to Colorado to Alabama to visit various relatives. One thing that sticks out from that trip is using my pre-glasses vision to spot the gas signs from the highway. The goal: Find that gas station that had gas under 60 cents a gallon.

My first memory of gas prices came from that trip. The cheapest gas I recall was 56 cents (OK 56 and 9/10 if you want to be picky). The high point hovered between 60 and 65 cents. Those stations didn't get our business.

The trip down memory lane is jarred back to reality when it hits the pothole of today's gas prices.

Looking back 30 years to prices in 1978, gas was 63 cents a gallon; a new home cost $62,500; a dozen eggs was 82 cents; a gallon of milk was $1.71; a first-class letter cost 15 cents. The median income in 1978 was $15,064.

Flash forward to prices in 2008: Gas is $4.06 (6.4 times the price 30 years ago); the average home - could find new home price - is $206,200 (3.29 times the price); eggs are $2.59 (up 3.15 times); a first-class letter is 42 cents (up 2.8 times). The median income is $61,500 (4.08 times).

So prices in general have tripled while the median income quadrupled. If gas were triple the price, we should be paying around $2 a gallon. That would be a bargain, considering that experts predict the national average to hit $4.50 later this year.


GumbyTheCat said...

Saw your blog addy on Topix (the Oprah article) so I thought I'd swing by. Very nice start on your blog. I'm 45, so I can relate to both the purpose of the blog and the price of gas when I was a kid. I used to walk to the gas station, gas can in hand, and fill the gallon can for 60 cents. Then I'd mow lawns. To think that in Ohio that gallon costs 4 dollars now makes me sick.

Keep up the good work!
"Matt from Akron" on Topix

40-Year-Old Blog said...

Gumby Matt,

Thanks for the comment. Four bucks seems more jarring than when it hit $3.

The question is: Can you still afford to mow lawns?

P.S. - Love Gumby the Cat. Looks like the kind of blog that makes you go, "Huh" (as opposed to mine, which makes people go, "Huh???".) The rapture e-mail post cracked me up.

GumbyTheCat said...

Just wait until it hits 5 bucks. THAT will be jarring.

Yes, I can still afford to mow my postage-stamp sized lawn, although I hate mowing.

Thanks for the kind words about my blog. I probably shouldn't have started it as they need constant care and feeding. However, Topix is an endless source of material.

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