There’s been a lot of talk lately about how high gas prices could go, and that’s led to a lot of talk about how burdensome higher gas prices are for many people. But when does talk turn to action? Where is the tipping point on gas prices? 

Whatever that point is — a certain price per gallon or tankful, or an amount spent in a week or month — it’s where the price of gas causes a shift in budgeting or behavior (or both). People cut back or eliminate spending on something to create extra money for gas, and they find ways to drive less — using mass transit, combining errands, or just skipping certain outings. 

For me, the tipping point is $50 per fill-up. Anything above $40 gives me pause, but there’s something about $50 where I have to draw the line. And we’re getting very close to it. 

I took the above picture this morning after filling up my 2003 Honda Element. It gets only around 20 mpg and I fill up at least once a week. This wasn’t quite a full tank, but you see the magic number: $42.89. A full tank probably would have been around $45. 

I paid $3.60 a gallon, so I won’t reach critical mass for another 25 cents. But that could come sooner than later. I’ll probably cut back on buying coffee at work, and use my wife’s Toyota Prius for errands and other non-commuting.