Thursday, April 13, 2006

Gas Prices Got You Down?

Like most folks, I am getting pretty disgusted with the price of gasoline. It just keeps going up, up, up with no end in sight. It is beginning to be a serious problem that has been influencing my bbq budget directly. Last year I had to forgo a few contests at the end of the year becasue the cost to transport the equipment there was just too great. Before too long it is going to hit $3 a gallon and when that happens, I am going to have to cut bbq contests out of the budget for a while.

At the start of the last bbq season in 2004 I recall paying about $1.50 for gasoline. As I write this gasoline here in Michigan is selling for $2.85 in the community where I live. That increase in gas prices hits bbq competitors pretty hard.

The potential prize money isn't going up fast enough on average to offset the rising costs of competing. Competitors and judges are having to decide based on market forces whether or not the cost of competing and judging is offset by the benefits, including the potential for recouping the costs and the intangible value included in the mere challenge and enjoyment of it. I am sure contest organizers are affected also in the form of fewer vendors, fewer competitors and fewer potential judges for their events.

BBQ restaurants aren't faring well either. Folks are staying at home more and spending less on luxury and convenience items and one of the first expenses that gets slashed is eating out at restaurants.

I read an article last week announcing that one of the large oil companies earned a profit of $31 billion last year. That astronomical profit was earned at the expense of the ordinary average guys and gals like you and me. Kind of discouraging isn't it?

Unfortunately it kind of looks like high gas prices are here to stay.

Some potential solutions for reducing the cost of competing:

1. Downsize what you take to contests. Less weight equals better gas mileage.

2. Trade your motor home for a pick-up truck or van and small utility trailer.

3. Plan your route to save driving miles. Take a direct route and reduce traveling speed. A 5 mph reduction will improve gas mileage on long trips.

4. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Low tire pressure cause reduced gas mileage.

5. Swap out your big offset cookers for smaller, portable cookers such as Backwoods, WSM, Ranch Kettle or the new knockdown cookers being offered by the BBQ Guru folks such as the Caldera.

6. Prioritize your expenses to make room for bbq. Take a sack lunch to work instead of eating out and skip the $3 and $4 cups of gourmet coffee for breakfast.

There are a myriad of things that you can do to help make room for bbq contests in your budget, but this short list should help get you started.

If I've missed anything obvious, feel free to post it by clicking the "comments" link below.

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