Personal Responsibility

Written By Nick Hodge

Posted December 30, 2011

I get 12.8 miles per gallon and I love it.

There, I said it.

Why don’t I care?

Because I drove all year for just over $3,000. I four-wheeled through snow and mud and corn and soy and wheat fields.

I towed my girlfriend’s car. I hauled loads of stone and dirt and mulch.

I helped friends move. I avoided the delivery fee for new appliances.

I took deer to the butcher. I took bulk trash to the dump for free. I took coolers and rods to the beach and the lake and the river, sometimes with a boat in-tow.

Even though it’s cost me more than it ever has — $3,087.26 for 886.1 gallons at an average price of $3.47 to drive 11,346 miles — I’d do it all over again…

And I will next year.

Hoggin’ and Loving It

Yep, I’m still a data hog, tracking every gallon, mile, kilowatt-hour and therm.

You can find my 2009 and 2010 gas use here and here, and the past four years’ gas use below:


Total Spent

Average Price per Gallon

Total Gallons Used

Total Miles Driven


























*Switched from Chevy Silverado 2WD to Ford F-150 4WD in October.

I’m in touch with my energy use, and I know that even if I had a 51 MPG Prius, my annual gas use would cost me $772. ((11,346 miles / 51) x $3.47).

I’d save $2,315.26.

But I couldn’t go four-wheeling. And I couldn’t tow cars or haul dirt and mulch. I couldn’t tow a boat. And, perhaps most important of all, I couldn’t help friends move.

All that stuff has a price, whether tangible or not. Towing cars costs money. So does having landscape products and appliances delivered to your house.

For me, it’s worth more than $2,315.26 a year. For others, it’s not.

I get it.

What I don’t get are the stupid articles that try to hammer home pedantic points, like one I came across from MSNBC that described consumer reaction to this year’s high gas prices thusly:

When the gifts from Grandma are unloaded and holiday travel is over, the typical American household will have spent $4,155 filling up this year, a record. That is 8.4 percent of what the median family takes in, the highest share since 1981.

The trap has caught Michael Reed of Charlotte, N.C. He hasn’t been able to find work since he lost his computer-support job in 2009. Now high gas prices are claiming more of what he has left. He and his wife won’t exchange gifts this Christmas.

“I try to drive as little as possible so it doesn’t take such a chunk out of my wallet,” he says.

In 1981, when the economy was sliding into recession and oil prices were high because of Middle East turmoil, gas ate up 8.8 percent of the typical family budget, says Fred Rozell of the Oil Price Information Service.

Over the past decade, gas has taken up 5.7 percent of the family budget. If families had spent only 5.7 percent this year, they would have saved $1,300.

Excuse me while I get out my violin…

Wrong Focus

You know, I was just telling a colleague the other day about the first week I started as an associate editor here at Angel for a whopping $27,000 a year.

Something happened with my first paycheck, and it didn’t arrive as expected. I literally had to call my parents for cash to get me through until it came. I was 23 years old.

A $3,087 gas bill that year would’ve been 11% of my salary.

The point MSNBC makes — and it’s one I hear echoed by Americans across the country — is that high gas prices mean you have to skimp on Christmas or drive less. That high gas prices are the enemy.

This is sophomoric.

The idea that high gas prices are to blame is partly what’s wrong with this country.

Those prices are only an honest reflection of commodity supply and demand in the market-based system we all live in. It’s an external, individually uncontrollable factor.

If those prices are eating too much of your budget, change the thing you have control over…  

Increase your budget. 

Today, that $3,087 gas bill is about 2% of my budget.

I’ve put myself in a position not to complain, but to choose.

I can choose to continue driving my truck or I can choose to pay a premium for a hybrid or electric and reduce my gas bill. But the choice is mine.

You think Michael Reed of Charlotte, N.C., can choose?

He’s not even buying Christmas gifts, let alone a new hybrid vehicle.

He needs to fix himself first. All the human interest editorial condemning high gas prices in the world can’t do that for him, or for anyone else.

Here’s an Idea

Instead of remaining oblivious to global markets and continuing to wallow in a sea of self-loathing while continuing to blame everyone and everything but yourself…

Why don’t you read up, get invested, exploit tax loopholes, pay down debt, save, and take control of your financial destiny?

That’s what I did. And it’s now what thousands of people pay me to tell them how to do.

So oil prices are back near $100 per barrel.

Why didn’t you buy an oil ETF and turn the high prices into personal profits? You can do it. You may just need someone to show you how.

That’s what I and my fellow editors are here for — not to tell you what to choose, but to put you in a position to be able to.

Expect more broad-themed and hard-hitting editorial to that end in the New Year.

Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge Signature

Nick Hodge

follow basic@nickchodge on Twitter

Nick is the founder and president of the Outsider Club, and the investment director of the thousands-strong stock advisories, Early Advantage and Wall Street’s Underground Profits. He also heads Nick’s Notebook, a private placement and alert service that has raised tens of millions of dollars of investment capital for resource, energy, cannabis, and medical technology companies. Co-author of two best-selling investment books, including Energy Investing for Dummies, his insights have been shared on news programs and in magazines and newspapers around the world. For more on Nick, take a look at his editor’s page.

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