For the first time in my memory, we are seeing 4's at the beginning of gas prices here on the SouthCoast.

When I gassed up today, I was shocked to see regular unleaded sitting at $3.99 a gallon. Add in the 9/10 of a cent and you're only a fraction of a penny away from an unprecedented $4!

At the gas station I go to, gas prices have leaped over the past two weeks nearly a dollar per gallon across the board.  If you've got a 20-gallon tank, you're talking about an extra $20 a fill-up. Suddenly, you're looking at an added expense of $100 a month (or more) popping out of nowhere. All of this, on top of the massive inflation we are seeing, is really causing some families to go back to the drawing board with their weekly budgets.

I was on the phone with a friend in San Francisco today. He was filling up his SUV to the tune of $5.79 a gallon for super unleaded. He says California prices were at roughly $4 a gallon two weeks ago, and now they are creeping up on $6 a gallon.

Of course, a major factor for the direction of gas prices over the next several weeks will be the events that unfold with respect to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Oil prices, as we know, are dictated by speculation. The war in eastern Europe has speculators spooked, worried about oil supplies when over 100,000 barrels a day of Russian oil is not available for our use.

Are we at a threshold? How high would the cost of gas have to climb before you started making real decisions to actively change your driving behavior? If the SouthCoast goes from $4 to $6 a gallon for gas over the next several weeks (as it did in California), would that be enough for you to change habits?

If gas prices got high enough, that job that's 40 minutes away might no longer be worth the gas.

It's tough because we've just finished up two years of being cooped up. Now that the mask restrictions have been fully lifted, here we are again. We're finally able to travel, but we can't afford it. 

We are certainly living through some weird times.

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

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