Atlanta Consumers Spending More, But Higher Gas Prices Play a Part

Consumer spending has been rapidly on the rise in 2011. That means the economy is rebounding, right? Well...not exactly, say Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys.

It turns out that most of the increase is actually due to - you may have guessed it - higher gas prices. Prices at the pump saw record increases in the past couple months, and it's only predicted to get worse. Talk about bad timing - economic growth was just starting to pick up in the last quarter. So how are we supposed to get back on our financial feet when prices keep going up?

The obvious solutions involve simply driving less - i.e. carpooling, taking the bus, riding a bike or walking when possible, bundling car trips (for instance, planning to stop at the bank while on the way to the grocery store), or even selling the second car. With so many smaller vehicles and hybrids available, it may be possible to save money over time by trading in a gas-guzzler for a fairly-priced pre-owned vehicle that gets better mileage. I mean, it's not like gas prices are going to go down anytime soon.

But what about those of us who don't have much flexibility when it comes to driving? Or who aren't in the market for a hybrid? That's where a family budget comes in.

Let's say that gas finally makes it to the dreaded 5 bucks a gallon this year. For many of us, that will mean paying at least an additional $500 annually - yikes! If you don't plan on changing your spending habits, that's quite an increase. But if you have all your expenses and income sources laid out in some kind of document, it's actually quite easy to find ways to soften the blow.

Without tracking your spending, you can lose sight of all the little costs, from the water bottles to vending machine purchases in the office cafeteria to magazine subscriptions that automatically renew. With a budget, those expenses are right in front of your face, so you can make decisions like cutting or lowering the cable, reducing or losing your gym memberships, or eliminating your home phone and relying solely on your cell - all savings that can be allocated towards your growing gas bill.

But while swapping out expenses to help cover gas is good for your finances, it might not be feasible year-after-year. Eventually, of course, you're going to need a cost-of-living increase. But while you're waiting on your employer for a raise, there are other ways to boost your income. For most of us, that means lowering debt. By reducing or totally eliminating thousands in debt, you could save hundreds of dollars in monthly payments - and you won't have to worry about late payment fees, going over your credit card limit, or damaging your credit score. In addition to more money for gas, you'll have more for rent or the mortgage, groceries, and all those everyday costs that add up so fast.

Have you put off dealing with debt because it's too overwhelming? It doesn't have to be. Bankruptcy can provide an affordable way to get out of debt while also protecting your paycheck, house, and other assets. Want to find out if bankruptcy is your ticket to a debt-free future? It doesn't cost a dime when you sign up for our free personal debt analysis, courtesy of a professional Atlanta bankruptcy attorney.

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