By Joe Rector

The last piece I wrote discussed price gouging and patriotism. If you’ve paid any attention to the news in the past week, you know that my concerns and pleas fell on deaf ears. A gallon of gas has climbed to $5.00. Remember that means that half is below that price and half is above it. Poor folks in the west are doling out $6.00-plus, and reports tell of one man who paid $10.00. Food prices are also climbing and might force many of us to become vegans.

Even with the problems we’re facing, I have decided to take a different approach to things. When it comes to gas, I’ve cut back on the trips that I take. My old 2011 Pathfinder can haul a ton of stuff, but the mileage per gallon is so bad that I’ve just cut back on driving. Many folks are glad that I am not on the road as much because I sometimes go through short fits of road rage. I know that folks need to drive to work, but they don’t have to make a trip for lunch if they bring food from home. As much as parents and teens hate to be together, the times might require that they take one car to an event instead of two or three. The result is more time at home, something that might bring folks a bit closer together.

We are still far from having electric cars that the average American can afford. My generation won’t live to see them as the common type of vehicle on the road. Still, we need to petition our government to turn the full power of the country toward the quick development of alternative fuels that are affordable and clean.

Amy and I ran up against some tough times a few years ago. The shock of events paralyzed us at first, but then we developed a plan for the future. I went back to work. No, I wasn’t excited about doing so, but the times required it. The pay ranged from $7.25-$8.00 per hour, much less than I wanted, but beggars can’t be choosy. We cut back on purchases we made, and we rebuilt a monthly budget to make sure we knew our limits. Yes, it was painful but necessary.

Our purchases never included costly items. Instead, we bought generic items. We bought food products with the same ingredients as higher-priced ones but were much less expensive. This approach applied to everything we used: food, clothes, and cleaning products. Our lifestyle drastically changed, and we followed the saying, “It’s good enough.”

If inflation doesn’t slow down or if political leaders don’t grab the reins and guide us out of the mess, many people will be adopting, “It’s good enough.” Keep in mind that our economy is cyclical: it goes up and down and up again. Let’s all accept the challenge of dealing with something that is no one’s fault. We will come out stronger and more united. While we’re at it, let’s teach our children (teens especially) the value of money and the good that comes from earning it. At the same time, we could all do a better job of living within our means and putting credit cards in the drawer.