America's Money: Gas crunch hits home

The record-high price of gasoline is putting a strain on motorists - and spurring some to shift their habits. Here are their stories.

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Sean Flower: Breathing a lot easier
Sean Flower: Breathing a lot easier
The high cost of gas motivated the Flowers to take control of their debt.
USAF maintenance operations center controller, 33, Browns Mills, N.J.

My family and I have worked hard to find the bright side of the raising gas prices. For starters, it has taught us to be much smarter gas shoppers and motivated us to take the extra steps with regards to increasing fuel economy.

The biggest effect the gas prices have had on us is with our debt. We know that we cannot control the rising cost of fuel, so we concentrated on something we can control: How we spend our money.

We took some time to really analyze where our money goes every month and have made some adjustments. The biggest adjustment involved paying down our debt. The "extra" money we were spending on frivolous things were recommitted to a debt plan.

We tackled our debt with the lowest balance first and paid it off completely. Then we snowballed that amount (the extra plus that debt's minimum payment) on top of the next largest balance. We kept snowballing it until all the debt was paid off...well, almost. We still have a car payment to squash, but we should be in the clear by the end of the summer.

It's been tough and we've all had to make sacrifices to get it done, but it's worth it. Now the gas prices can do what they want, we've got buffer room in our budget to account for it. We still don't go on long Sunday drives, but we do breathe a lot easier!

NEXT: Raphael Camejo: Saving on taxes - and gas too
Last updated September 25 2008: 3:44 PM ET
 
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