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West Michiganders focus on budgeting amid rising gas prices

Gas Prices in Kalamazoo
Posted at 5:16 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 10:09:53-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Gas prices are rising nationwide including in West Michigan.

According to GasBuddy, drivers are now paying on average, $1.40 more per gallon compared to one year ago.

On Tuesday, a Shell gas station in Portage was selling a gallon of gas for $4.25. That's just one cent shy of the Michigan average the same day at $4.24 per gallon.

Drivers who spoke with Fox 17 said the rising prices are getting to be too much.

"We need to plan ahead. It is getting out of hand. We can’t go and do things that we want to," said Angela Freeman of Kalamazoo.

The rising gas prices put a halt on plans for spring break for Angela Freeman's family.

They were planning to take a 13-hour trip to Oklahoma, but have since decided to stay in Kalamazoo.

"I noticed now, that when I first got the car is was like $10, $15, $20 to maybe fill it all the way up, and I don’t drive far. Everywhere I do drive is in the local area, so a tank of gas can really last me a while. Now it’s like, I still drive, it is just almost like the gas goes faster and you don’t get as much bang for your buck no more," said Freeman.

Compared to last month's average for a gallon of gas, GasBuddy reported the price went up $0.80. They also reported the price has gone up $0.60 per gallon on average from last week and $0.10 per gallon on average from Monday.

"The problem is, is with fuel, you know, we're looking at about 35% or 40% increase, so if an average family is maybe spending $250 a month, you know, previously, after that, you know, that big of an increase, that's an additional $100, so that's $25 a week," said WMU Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness' Program Manager Todd Mora.

Lower income and working class families are being hit the hardest, according to Mora.

He said it could be because of two reasons. The first is they may already have a tight budget, and the second is because they're in jobs where they're generally commuting instead of working remotely.

"They're probably going to have to cut back in other areas in with inflation being high across the board, that makes it really hard, so they're going to have difficulties in those areas. Then additionally, find creative ways to manage those fuel costs. Things like it, you know, haven't talked a lot about it but, you know, commuting with with coworkers to work, you know, ride sharing, figuring out ways to combine trips," said Mora.

Mora also suggested drivers could start cutting back now to help long term, especially if gas prices continue to rise.

Freeman told Fox 17 she has already discussed being more intentional with trips her family does take.

"It’s just like, ‘Ok if I am going out, we are going to go here, here, here, here and then we are done for the day. Tomorrow if we need to go out, we can go here, here and here, so we are not making special trips. Oh, I forgot something, let’s go here. Nope, we are not doing that'," said Freeman.

Across the country currently, California is seeing the highest gas prices at an average of $5.46 per gallon. Oklahoma is seeing the cheapest at an average of $3.73 per gallon.

Rising Gas Prices in West Michigan