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The joy is pretty easy to achieve, by choosing a more efficient car next time.

The key there is NEXT TIME. People that are struggling to afford their fuel costs are not likely to be able to afford to go out and buy a replacement car.

My assumptions were based on higher consumption than both vehicles in our household's vehicle fleet

And I used the 20mpg it appeared you had used in your calculations to provide the baseline value of fuel expenses. I also provided information for people with less fuel efficient vehicles, but I used the 20mpg number in calculating the amount of a household's budget that will go to fuel costs.

I did not mention years. I was merely estimating how much it costs to drive 10,000 miles.

If the purpose of providing the numbers was not to back up your statement, what was the purpose? It seems to me that you used that information to justify your comment that you cannot believe gas would be a significant part of many people's budget. I gave you numbers that more accurately reflect the impact fuel has.

10% of a household's budget seems significant to me.

And, that's a figure that can be reduced significantly by choosing more fuel-efficient vehicles and reducing driving mileage, including by living closer to workplaces.

If you already own a fuel-inefficient vehicle and live 25 miles from work, you may not be in a position where you can easily change things right now. Changing vehicles or homes is not usually something that can be done overnight. And even if you could, typically these changes will cost you many thousands of dollars up front.

Your assumed 25,000 annual mileage to earn $40,000 post-tax includes a lot of commuting, to earn those bucks.

The only assumption I made was that the household had 2 cars (this is a safe assumption since most families around the country have 1 car for each adult). Beyond that, the information comes from real data -- over 12K miles per car and a median household income of $50K/yr. I never actually assumed anything about commutes; the fact of people's commutes is built into the average number of miles driven.

Living in the real world, we need to make choices based on real costs.

This is true. But people make certain assumptions when they make large purchases. And people's assumptions can be wrong. I suspect a lot of people did not anticipate fuel prices rising by 15%+ per year over the last 3 years. Over time, habits and the types of cars people own will change. But this cannot happen overnight.

That you or I might think people have been irresponsible regarding car choices is irrelevant. The impact on people's budgets is undeniable.

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