Think of our current gas prices as a raise.
"Minimum wages have not yet gone up," said retired San Diego State finance professor Tony Cherin, "but in effect, lower gas prices does mean the minimum wage can buy more."
Drivers are noticing. Jason Coker filled up his pickup truck Monday in El Cajon for $2.75 a gallon.
What will he do with the savings?
"I hope to get some Christmas presents for the kids. That's number one," Coker said. "Number two, pay bills."
On Sunday, Dec. 7, the average price for regular unleaded gas in San Diego dropped below $3 a gallon. The last time prices were this low was on Oct. 5, 2010. It wasn't that long ago that drivers were paying more than $4 in San Diego, but now, prices are dropping fast.
"We have a little extra money. It let's us go to dinner, or we have extra money to get a little bit better gift for somebody," said Amanda Masters as she was filling her gas tank.
Nearby, Ariel Simmons says she usually paid about $45 to fill her compact car. On Monday, it cost her $32.
Cherin says local merchants hope consumers will spend some of that savings at their stores and restaurants.
"What they are not going to spend at the gas pump will allow them to spend a little more on Christmas and some things they may be putting off," Cherin said.
If oil prices keep dropping, some gas price experts predict the price at the pump could drop to $2.49 by Christmas.