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Pain at the Pump

Mike Zaccardi

GAS PRICES TOOK another step higher last week—troubling news for the millions of families planning their summer vacations.

It’s already shaping up as a big travel year. An estimated 39.2 million folks hit the road or took a flight over the Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA, up 8.3% from last year. GasBuddy data show the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $4.60 over the holiday weekend. Steep? By July 4, that could look cheap.

As inflation continues to run hot, gasoline futures are worth watching. “RBOB gasoline” futures are offered by the CME Group and trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Retail investors, like you and me, can play it through an exchange-traded fund: United States Gasoline Fund LP (symbol: UGA).

Gasoline futures have more than doubled over the past six months. When pump prices go up, folks are displeased—consumer sentiment, as measured by the University of Michigan’s survey, is at its lowest level in more than a decade. The handwringing will likely grow. Gasoline futures hit a new all-time high as of Friday’s closing price.

The futures settled near $4.25 last week. One rule of thumb: Add 90 cents to arrive at the expected average retail price. While the current national average is $4.82, drivers in California are shelling out $6.30 and prices might approach $7 later this summer.

What to do? The usual litany of tips is out there: Tackle multiple errands whenever you take the car out, keep your tires at the right air pressure, drive less aggressively, use a gas rewards credit card and the like. But in reality, these tips will likely generate small monthly savings. Instead, if you want to save money, focus on bigger expenses—like investment fees, taxes and health insurance.

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Mik Cajon
Mik Cajon
3 months ago

Energy independence is national security…not a political opinion.

Last edited 3 months ago by Mik Cajon
Mike Wyant
Mike Wyant
3 months ago
Reply to  Mik Cajon

Guess what. We are. However oil is a global commodity.
We already achieved ‘energy independence.’ What good did it do us?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/06/07/energy-independence-oil-gas-renewables/

Mik Cajon
Mik Cajon
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Wyant

Consider the source…”opinions”.

Last edited 3 months ago by Mik Cajon
Kari Lorch
Kari Lorch
3 months ago

I am an avid cyclist and I try to ride my bike for errands as much as I can! Need a quality lock of course, and am grateful for the cycling infrastructure in Minnesota to help make it safer as well.

Brian Bicknell
Brian Bicknell
3 months ago

Isn’t the obvious way to save money to just buy an electric car?

Mark Royer
Mark Royer
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Bicknell

I see where Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) is bragging about driving her new electric vehicle past the gas stations. Rich people and politicians (but I repeat myself) who do not want to pay $5 or $6 per gallon can buy a $60,000 EV, but for us commoners, that is not always an option.

Cammer Michael
Cammer Michael
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Royer

One of my neighbors adopted EVs early with Nissan and GM models, far less than the Teslas and BMWs owned my other early adopter neighbors. Of course, he also has a regular car for longer trips. So there are less expensive alternatives, but EVs are also not ready for most long hauls or unpredictable driving.

Anthony Goczalk
Anthony Goczalk
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Royer

In the middle of the pandemic induced car price zoo, I bought a brand new 2020 Chevrolet Bolt Premier (same car the Senator drove) for $12,845.31 plus my 8 year old Honda Civic. That was my total out of pocket cost including TTL (Tax, Title and License). You can find the $60K EV’s out there but if you do a little work (reading the owner forums) … there are some deals out there.

Nate Allen
Nate Allen
3 months ago
AKROGER SHOPPER
AKROGER SHOPPER
3 months ago

Mike Thanks for the article. I am investing in a new set of sneakers, and getting my senior citizens metro bus card. It will now be an all day experience going grocery shopping with car parked and metro bus replacing car. Other savings include a victory garden and ditching the gas lawn mower pressing into service the trusty Sears rotary wheel push lawn mower. The economic disaster has just begun, with no end in sight.

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