13 comments

Mustache on the Move: Gas Prices Still Way Too Low

Mustache on the Move! A catchy new feature where I capture breaking frugality news in and around the Boulder/Longmont, Colorado area and report back to you. And these reports will always come with an eye-opening image from my handy telephone camera.

I love reading about gas prices, because here in the US, people get very excited about how incredibly crushing they are these days, despite being among the cheapest in the world. (the US national average gas price is about $3.79/gallon today, equivalent to about $1.00 US or $0.96 Canadian/litre for comparison). At this level, even the President talks about it regularly, hard-working families moan and groan, and people even buy, on average, slightly less gas guzzling cars.

But look at this guy driving in Longmont today. He’s getting about 12 MPG driving around in the city in this Ford F-250 pickup truck.

His truck has been enhanced by poking the exhaust pipes out through the cargo bed. That way, the driver can pretend he’s driving a REAL TRANSPORT TRUCK! But with no trailer. Because transport trucks are cool. I wish my bike could look like a transport truck! It also makes it LOUDER! Yeah!

Adding the mufflers to the cargo bed definitely cuts down your cargo capacity, but that’s OK, because this guy is only carrying two little pieces of plastic gutter flashing in there anyway. And they are hanging out the back, because this F-250 wisely uses the “short bed” design which sacrifices cargo space for passenger space. Because a 12 MPG truck is ideal for carrying passengers around. Heck, he could even use it for commuting! But oddly enough, there was only one guy in it when I took this picture.

The final enhancement is that this Longmontian has paid to have the suspension RAISED even higher than normal and added absolutely huge tires with REALLY TALL treads on them. Shiny black wheels too. All of this increases the aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance even further than the stock design. But he won’t even notice because the truck has over 300 horsepower – plenty to keep even this modified F-250 going at over 80 MPH on the Interstate! At that speed, it gets only 10 MPG. Meaning it burns 8 gallons of fuel every hour, coincidentally about the amount the Mustache family uses every month.

When I see things like this, (which I actually see pretty much every day), I believe that gasoline is still way, way, way too cheap.

But you can still save a ton of money by burning less of it yourself. I’ve got two more car-related posts coming up soon on exactly how to do that, so stay tuned!

  • Kevin M May 27, 2011, 2:11 pm

    I love it. This is the rant I wish I would have posted (if I had a cool blog like MMM).

    Reply
  • ice May 29, 2011, 12:39 am

    Dude, what a great post. Sadly, the gas prices will have to go much higher for people to really feel enough pain to change their actions.

    As one of my friends who hand-washes his laundry said, “I could buy an agitator, but then I wouldn’t get to bitch about it (hand-washing).”

    Many Americans could easily change behavior, but then they wouldn’t get to complain about gas prices.

    I am on a tear reading through your blog as I just found it last week through ERE. Please keep up the good, interesting work.

    Reply
  • Kim Westlund October 19, 2011, 3:21 pm

    Over here in Sweden the gas price is about $2.12/litre, or $8 per gallon.
    Love this blog. Keep it up!

    Reply
  • Mark June 22, 2012, 8:36 am

    I notice that your picture is taken through a car window. Have you installed those on your bike?

    Reply
    • alanb June 24, 2012, 12:53 pm

      He has a car, Mark. Relax.

      Reply
  • Dvortygirl September 2, 2012, 8:49 am

    I was carrying a good 20lbs of groceries home on my bike the other day and got passed by a rather smug-looking fellow in a white Hummer. Hope he’s enjoying the $4/gallon gas prices as much as I am.

    Reply
  • missj August 15, 2014, 10:14 pm

    I see this regularly in Oregon too. Big gas guzzlers tricked out with suspension, huge tires and anti-obama bumper stickers. It really makes you wonder if people LIKE wasting money.

    I read a book called “$20 a Gallon” and each chapter forecasts what life will be like as gas goes up a dollar per gallon. It’s pretty eye opening. Spoiler alert…it’s a good idea to live close enough to work that you could potentially bicycle and/or near a rail line (even an old, defunt rail line) because eventually when we go back to moving freight and people primarily by rail they will have to build A LOT more lines and the cheapest place to build lines is right on top of the old arteries.

    In fact, if I had money to invest on undeveloped or vacated land, I would pick a chunk very close to an abandoned rail line stop that could potentially be turned into storefronts or apartment/condo housing in the future.

    I personally cannot wait until gasoline gets uncomfortably expensive, something like $8-$10 per gallon because then we will finally be FORCED to make the changes as a society that are long overdue. Once gas gets really expensive, the environment will slowly start to improve.

    Reply
  • Benk August 18, 2014, 3:31 pm

    Hey that’s 3rd and Main. Small world. Who’d have thought I’d find a finance blog by someone in my own town of Longmont!!!

    Reply
  • JT January 2, 2015, 8:29 am

    My viewpoints on finances align pretty well with yours. I’m also going to make a comment about you blog only reading your posts chronologically from this point. I hope at some point you discuss utility.

    You come across as very judgmental and almost pompous. It makes sense that you believe your opinions are the most valid. That being said the post seems to forget that others may not hold the same beliefs and how they choose to spend their money may make them happy, even if it wouldn’t make you happy. Utility is tough to measure but you have to understand different people have a different utility for different things. I know it’s tough to comprehend but maybe big trucks make this guy happy, I know as a kid I really liked my toy trucks.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache January 3, 2015, 10:30 am

      I hear you, JT! If you keep reading, you’ll see that the whole theme of the blog is that we all have inaccurate perceptions of our own utility. A big truck may create superficial temporary happiness for some, but there is always a better way than disposible consumer items.

      But unfortunately you will find that the opinionated writing style continues throughout the blog. That’s just my own warped sense of humor – if you don’t dig it you might prefer a more straight-laced source for your financial reading.

      Reply
  • Miah January 16, 2015, 2:47 pm

    I have been reading this blog and agree with a lot you have said. However I also have a lifted Landcruiser. One of the reasons I want to retire early is so I can go camping in the middle of nowhere with my family. In that case the Landcruiser, the lift, the winch, etc add utility. Someone else might have a fast car with bigger turbo, low profile tires, etc. and want to retire so they can spend more time on doing SCCA amateur racing. Those are not inherently less valuable than spending more time reading a book, enjoying Netflix, traveling, or the other pleasure pursuits that you may deem more worthy. That leads me to the question I keep asking as I read this. If I have more time, but don’t dare use it for fear of spending money on gas, recreational equipment, whatever then what is the point. I need to find a balance between having no time, but plenty of money and time, but fear of spending the money.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache January 16, 2015, 5:19 pm

      Sure, but you could use a bike for in-city errands, a a nice $4000 Civic for any inter-city trips, and save the land cruiser only for times when you’ll be leaving civilization.

      As for inherently less valid, I would argue that motorsports are a bit less worthwhile than most other activities just because you are damaging other people in the process via pollution and resource consumption. Not that that means you’ll never do them, but a smart person would weigh it as one factor in the decision.

      Reply
      • miah January 19, 2015, 11:04 am

        My bigger question is how do you balance saving money so you have time with having time and not having the money to enjoy the time you have. I think it would be easy to end up retired with enough money to live on, but not enough to enjoy your newfound time.

        Agreed, I don’t use the Land Cruiser for most of my driving. (all my cars are old, paid for, and I do most of the maintenance/repair myself) Though with gas prices where they are it is getting harder to justify having multiple vehicles, even if one is a gas guzzler. registration, insurance, repairs, etc. might make it better to drive a gas guzzler around all of the time vs. having two cars from an economic perspective.
        I love riding my bike, but don’t see it as a viable alternative to most of our driving. For one thing until I can retire, the time needed to ride to the grocery store 5-10 miles away isn’t really available. Even if it was, perishables might not like the 30 mins in 90 degree weather, and I can’t handle it when it is 30 degrees. Then there is the issue of taking the kid who is getting to big for the trailer, but not big enough to pedal himself yet.

        Reply

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