The amount of cash flow clients can commit to investment/insurance programs often depends on changes in their costs of living. For example, CPI inflation during 2011 was about 3.3 percent, but gasoline prices soared. According to the Associated Press, the average American household spent a record $4,155 for gasoline in 2011, 8.4 percent of median household income.

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Most households don't have the flexibility to reduce gasoline consumption by much. But you can help clients monitor the impact of creeping expenses by encouraging a formal monthly budget. When spending in any major category creeps up, it should shrink in other areas to keep investment/insurance commitments constant. Tracking gasoline usage and costs can be a good first step in developing budgeting discipline. Tell clients to log their odometer readings at the start and end of the month or quarter. Then, multiply miles driven by the average price-per-gallon for your state or county, found here:

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http://www.gasbuddy.com/GB_StateList.aspx

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