Morose Musings on Gas Prices and Mortgage Payments

Who'd have ever thought that regular unleaded gas could be over $3 a gallon in many places, again, so soon after our first sticker shock with fuel? Some analysts are talking about a "new normal" with gas at all time high prices, and it's got me really thinking: how many of us are that close to the edge financially that this could tip us over?

Apparently, it's actually got more of us taking transit in places like L.A. That's the good news. The bad news is that life is going to cost us more, and some of us aren't prepared for that.

The US economy has been running on a lot of "one time" money from our home equity, if the refinancing numbers are to be believed. That one time money is just that -- one time. In fact, it's not "real" money at all, until the home is actually sold, because the value of your home can go down. Housing prices have falled before -- and will likely fall again.

So what if all your eggs are in the housing basket? What if you've cleaned up all your debt, but your home is mortgaged to the hilt? What if the cost of heating and electricity and other essentials increase with the price of gas, and your mortgage payment starts to be bigger than you can handle once you've paid those bills and put food on the table?

I'm hoping that our economy is resilient enough that none of us have to answer a question like that any time soon. But if you happen to notice the numbers of foreclosures going up, get ready. It could be the piper coming for payment.

Michael

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