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Gas costs $1/gallon more than last year as crude oil prices spike

The average price of gas is $3.12 per gallon. One year ago, it was $2.18.

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Crude oil prices are 50% higher than they were at the start of the year — and consumers are likely to feel it at the pump. In January, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude was $48.50. Yesterday, it hit $75.82, its highest price since fall 2018. 

Demand for oil has increased as the economy reopens and flights, car travel, and the transportation of goods have all rebounded. That's driven up the average price of a gallon of gas to $3.12 as of July 1, according to AAA. One year ago, it was $2.18.

"During the month of June, we estimate that the market was in a 2.3 million barrel per day deficit. ... The bottom line: Demand is surging as we head into the summer travel season, and that is against a nearly inelastic supply curve," Jeff Currie, global head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, said on CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange."

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If you're taking a road trip this holiday weekend, expect some sticker shock. Still, there are ways to save money on gas. 

  • Stick to the speed limit. Every 5 miles per hour faster you drive over 50 mph increases your per-gallon gas cost by 21 cents, according to the EPA. Hitting the brakes and accelerating quickly also waste gas. "You hard-break, you accelerate very quickly, you speed — those are things that could cost you as much as $400 a year on fuel, just because you're driving like a maniac," GasBuddy's Allison Mac told Grow.
  • Price-compare gas stations. A third of drivers buy gas when their low fuel warning light comes on, which often means pulling over in a panic instead of searching for the most affordable gallon. Keep an eye on your tank before it runs out, and use an app like AAA, GasBuddy, or Waze to figure out the best prices along routes you frequent, like your commute. "If you are shopping for gas and decide to go to the gas station right off the highway or at a main intersection, that's premium real estate," Mac said. "You are paying for convenience."
  • Carry cash. Some gas stations charge a fee for using a credit card.
  • See if your gas station offers grocery rewards. For example, Sunoco offers per-gallon discounts of 5 to 10 cents or more, based on your spending at grocers like SHOP 'n SAVE and Price Chopper.

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