Rising pump prices are putting a serious crimp in the efficiency of our dollars when buying fuel, and that's bad news for the economic recovery.
Every extra dollar we spend filling our vehicles' tanks is one less dollar that can be spent elsewhere.
As a story in Sunday's Mirror noted, fuel prices nationally are at their highest price ever for this time of year at $3.53 a gallon and are expected to climb further.
Of course, in the Altoona area, $3.53 would be a bargain for gasoline. Pump prices in the area have been running 10 to 20 cents above the national average for some time. On Sunday, gasoline was nearly $3.70 a gallon in many Altoona locations, compared with $3.53 nationally.
And experts say expect fuel prices to continue to climb, with some forecasting $4.25 gasoline by late April with possibly higher costs - perhaps $5 a gallon - later this year.
We've heard similar dire predictions on prices in the past that most of the time, fortunately, haven't panned out. Whether we can dodge a bullet again remains to be seen.
The area and nation did see prices in the $4 a gallon range in the summer of 2008 before retreating amidst the Great Recession.
That's something - high prices followed by a recession - that we hope isn't repeated.
Most Americans have few options but to adjust their spending to make higher fuel prices fit in their budgets. That might mean making fewer trips, deferring some purchases or staying home more than going out. All of those actions will have ripple effects on the businesses that need those customer dollars to stay afloat.
For now all area residents can do is try to spend their money wisely, prepare for tougher budget days ahead and hope that those predictions for much higher prices prove to be off the mark.