A Gallup survey this week reports that Americans on average say that gas prices at $5.30 to $5.35 per gallon are the tipping point that would make them significantly change the way they live their lives or reduce spending in other areas.
30 percent of respondents (the largest group) identified the $5.00-$5.99 price range as the one that would force them to make significant changes in the way they live. 28% of respondents, the second largest group, identified the $4.00 to $4.99 price range as the one that would prompt significant changes.
The overall average "tipping point" price of roughly $5.30 per gallon, however, suggests there is room for a considerably greater increase in gas prices before Americans say prices will begin to have widespread, serious consequences on their spending and lifestyle patterns.
At the same time, Americans have been down this road before. Even though we did not see record-setting prices in 2011, high gas prices over a prolonged period last year caused the typical American household to spend more than $4,100 on gasoline, according to the Oil Price Information Service and that figure will surely be surpassed this year.
The same Gallup survey found that most Americans still want their elected representatives in Washington to do more to reduce gas prices. 85 percent say the president and Congress should "take immediate action to try to control the rising price of gas."
Interestingly enough, political perspectives had little to do with public attitudes on this question. Gallup noted that large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats say the president should take action.
At the same time, a somewhat lower 65 percent of Americans believe that the president and Congress can, in fact, take action that would control the rising price of gas.
What do you think? Are you waiting for prices to go higher before you make significant changes? Or, are you making changes and cutting back right now?