What did the high gas prices make me realize about my attitude about money?

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  • I grew up in a household that struggled to make a living.
  • My parents always filled up their gas tank for $20 at a time.
  • When I started taking a long-term approach to finance, I was able to fill my tank completely.
  • Compare the best savings accounts with Fiona,

I learned to drive in a suburb. It was what my mom always ran: Since we were a family of six and often traveled with cousins ​​and friends, we needed nine seats and a spacious cargo hold. Unfortunately, the gas tank was also massive, so my mom would stop a few times a week, peel the $20 bill, and send me to the gas station, where I learned to ask for “$20 at pump four.”

We were busy—participating in four different kids activities—so it would have been easy to make a weekly stop to fill up the gas tank. But my parents needed to earn $20 each before they could spend it on gas. They’ll scrutinize the $80 or more needed to fill the tank, but they didn’t have it all at the beginning of the week.

Of course, I never thought much about why our frequent gas stops as a kid. But when I met my partner and he moved in with my family, he told us that we were stopping for gas every other day.

“Why not just fill out?”

That’s when I realized that filling up was a privilege. It wasn’t until I made financial changes to move from paycheck-to-paycheck that I could fill in without a second thought. This summer, with gas prices soaring higher than ever, I groaned and screamed like everyone else at the pump. But it took me some time to appreciate the financial progress I’ve made.

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Budgeting lets me take a longer-term approach to money

Shortly after that conversation with my partner, I started thinking about the budget. I realized that I could think of money and not just in terms of what was in my bank account that day, but what will come and what will come out during the month.

It was such a simple change in perspective – one that many people probably intuitively understand. But I was raised in a family where we were constantly in financial trouble. had limited funds directed where they were needed most at that moment, whether it is for the gas tank or to buy groceries or to keep the lights on. Yesterday’s expenditure was yesterday’s problem. There was an urgency to spend the options.

By budget preparation, I began to unravel that argument. My partner and I had enough coming in to cover our expenses, so for the first time ever I had some breathing room. If I had already budgeted $80 a week for gas, I could fill my tank with confidence without worrying about my card being declined or not being able to buy groceries the next day because I Spent a lot on gas.

High gas prices made me realize how different life is now

It’s been years since I only had to put $20 or $40 into my tank. When I was a kid, seeing how little you can get a gas tank for was a family art form. We ran out of gas more than once. Now, it’s rare that my warning light comes on. I fill back up even with record-high gas prices once I’m down to a quarter tank.

It seems so mundane. But it is representative of how not having enough money affects all areas of your life. It cuts into your ability to make logical decisions or plan ahead. This leads to more expenses – like AAA calls and missed work when we broke up because we didn’t have $10 to spend on gas.

When you’re on the other side, the right way to do things is obvious, as my husband told me all those years ago. Fill up once and save your time and stress for the rest of the week. But when you don’t have that option, you’re just trying your best. Small changes like budgeting and planning ahead won’t make a difference for everyone – they can’t offset too little income or too many expenses. But for me they were an important tool to help me reach a goal I didn’t even know I was striving for every time I had a full gas tank.

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