The Price of Fuel

The Price of Fuel

The cost to fuel our cars has been fluctuating wildly and has recently been declining. The other day I noticed that Casey’s had it for $2.999  and I could purchase it the day before in Springfield for $2.689. I got to wondering how that price was compared to when I went off to college in 1963. I remember purchasing it for $.299 in Fayetteville. Wow, it is 10 times more now. If you think it is high you have not been to the West Coast Recently. A couple of weeks ago while in San Diego I paid $5.689. I got out the trusty spreadsheet and backed down that $3 price to 1963 adjusting for inflation. I was shocked as the calculation showed that $2.999 today has the same buying power as $.269 in 1963. So fuel is less costly today. It gets even better. I found a chart that shows the average MPG for all the cars in the USA. In 1963 it was 19 MPG and today it is 31. So our cost per mile (in terms of buying power) has decreased by about 45% when you factor in both inflation and increased efficiency.

Now for the bad news. I checked our ability to pay. I started by checking our economy’s performance over that period using GDP and adjusting it for inflation again. GDP increased by about 380%. Then I checked the median family income adjusted for inflation and found that it had only improved by 21% over 60 years. By comparison, the economy has boomed, but not our ability to pay. Any thoughts about where the 359% improvement in our economy went?

Personal Health

Very early on with this Blog, I posted about personal health and solutions. Since that time our rate of obesity has increased to over 42% and per capita healthcare costs have almost doubled. I am the first to point out the shortcomings of our system which are facilitated and protected by our government but we need to also understand that we are significant contributors (at the personal level) to the outrageous cost of medicine in our country.

For that reason I feel compelled to rerun some of the posts from my earlier effort;

“Obesity has been cited as a contributing factor to approximately 100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year and has increased health care use and expenditures, costing society an estimated $117 billion in direct (preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to weight) and indirect (absenteeism, loss of future earnings due to premature death) costs. This exceeds health-care costs associated with smoking or problem drinking and accounts for 6% to 12% of national health care expenditures in the United States.”

Solutions are available and all it takes is a modicum of effort:

“By now I suspect you are beginning to understand the issue. As Americans, we eat quite a lot. I wonder how we do on exercise? It is estimated that the average person takes about 10,000 steps a day. While this is not considered incremental “exercise”, it does add to your calorie burn. This activity will burn about 350 incremental calories, so now we are up to 1,850. Only about 15% of Americans have a scheduled exercise period beyond normal activity. The recommendation for all of us is a minimum of 30 minutes of any sort of exercise that will raise your heart rate by at least 50%. If your normal heart rate is 60 bpm then you need to raise it to 90. Brisk walking at 4 mph will accomplish this. You do not have to pay for a gym to walk! This will burn another 300 calories, so now we are up to 2,150. Need some motivation to commit to this 30 minutes a day?

If you have yet to watch the video “23 ½ hrs.” please take a few minutes to do so:

A common comment is: “I’m a very busy person. I can’t spare even 30 minutes a day for exercise.” I have two suggestions for this person:

  1. Most people are lacking in time management skills. Unless time management is already incorporated into your daily activities then I would bet you are missing out on at least 30 minutes of daily time (probably closer to an hour). If you have not taken advantage of this skill set, do so.
  2. Set number one above aside. All of us need at least 30 minutes a day of alone time where we just plan and think things through. Pick an exercise activity that allows you to multi-task (both exercise & plan/think at the same time).

About ingestion of calories

However, we still have a problem and that is? You know this one as well………. We just eat too darn much food! Based on the averages we would need to exercise almost 3 hours a day to avoid gaining weight and that is not going to happen. There is no way around it, we must shrink our stomachs and learn to eat less. The average American needs to eat about 1,000 calories fewer a day, even with the recommended 30 minutes of exercise!”

A tip that works for me: I never consume more than 4 ounces of meat or fish at any time and keep my total consumption at 8 ounces or less. If I have prepared too much I will put the overage in the fridge and have it a few hours later as a snack or as leftovers to supplement my next meal. This keeps my stomach to a reasonable size and helps curtail appetite (at least for me).

The Economy in 2023

The Economy in 2023

How was the economy during 2023? Looking at six key economic indicators it appears the results were not so bad compared to an average of the prior 20 years. Real (inflation-adjusted) GDP increased by 2.5%, a bit above the 2% average. The inflation rate at 3.7% is still above the 2.5% average but improved significantly vs 2022. Unemployment at 3.4% is an all-time low. The S&P 500 improved 9.4% over the 12 months while the NASDAQ improved a whopping 43.4%. The wage increase was almost double the average. Not a bad year.

YearReal GDPInflationUnemploymentS&P 500NASDAQAVG wage
Growth * RateRate% change% changeIncrease *
20021.70%2.40%6.00%-22%-31.53%-1.40%
20032.80%1.90%5.70%29%50.01%0.50%
20043.90%3.30%5.40%11%8.59%1.40%
20053.50%3.40%4.90%49%1.37%0.20%
20062.80%2.50%4.40%16%9.52%1.80%
20072.00%4.10%5.00%54%9.81%2.5%
20080.10%0.10%7.30%-37%-40.54%2.2%
2009-2.60%2.70%9.90%26%43.89%-4.1%
20102.70%1.50%9.30%15%16.91%0.3%
20111.50%3.00%8.50%32%-1.80%1.6%
20122.30%1.70%7.90%14%15.91%0.8%
20131.80%1.50%6.70%1%38.32%0.5%
20142.30%0.80%5.60%12%13.40%1.3%
20152.70%0.70%5.00%22%5.73%0.8%
20161.70%2.10%4.70%-4%7.50%-0.6%
20172.30%2.10%4.10%22%28.24%1.5%
20182.90%1.90%3.90%18%-3.88%0.7%
20192.30%2.30%3.60%31%35.23%1.5%
2020-3.40%1.40%6.70%18%43.64%6.2%
20215.70%7.00%3.90%29%21.39%3.2%
20222.70%6.50%3.70%18%-33.10%2.6%
20232.50%3.70%3.40%9.4%43.42%2.1%
Average2.0%2.5%5.8%16.9%11.4%1.1%
w/o 2023
* Inflation adjusted

One more item to consider is the price of gas. The price of regular gas declined by 12% from December 2022 to December

 2023. Considering inflation adjustment, the gas price is no higher today than 20 years ago.