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Gas Prices: Worth It, or Not?

Gas Prices: Worth It, or Not?South Carolina seemed to be getting some relief when gas prices dipped below $3 a gallon last month.

Last month,South Carolina was the only state in the nation to average less than $3 a gallon for unleaded gasoline. South Carolinastill has the lowest gas prices in the nation averaging $3.16 as of Monday.

ManyNorth Carolinians find themselves contemplating crossing the border to get cheaper gas. North Carolinians pay 22.4 cents more at the pump for gas taxes than people living in South Carolina do. The allure of cheaper gas prices causes manyCharlotteresidents to come toSouth Carolinato fill up, but is cheaper gas really worth the drive?

Patricia Pasternak, manager of Miller’s Produce inFort Mill,SC, hope people will continually cross the border for cheaper gas. Miller’s Produce added eight pumps since Christmas to handle the high demand. “We’d have them two to three deep waiting on gas, “ Pasternak said back in January, when gas prices were around the same price as they are now. “This way, we have the extra pumps to keep traffic flowing easily.” She adds.

To decide whether it is worth your time to cross the border or drive further for cheaper gas you would need to compute the difference in gas prices compared to the difference in distance.

For example, if someone is driving fromCharlotte’s South End to get gas, it may be not worth his or her time or energy to cross the border to get cheaper gas. The driver of an average car (21.5 miles per gallon, 14 gallon tank) would on average save $2.80 by filling up their empty tank inSouth Carolina. The car would burn that $2.80 in fuel getting back toCharlotte’s South End. The drive from the West Boulevard exit in Charlotte’s South End to the closest South Carolina gas station on Carowinds Boulevard in York County is around 9.5 miles.

If you are making a trip to South Carolina, it does not hurt to fill up while you are there.Charlotteresident, Stacy Boyd, fills up her 2007 Honda CRV inSouth Carolinawhen she makes the trip to visit friends. If Stacy fills her tank up in South Carolina, she would save $3.06. The trip toSouth Carolinawould use $4.68 worth of gas. Stacy would only end up losing $1.62 for gas on her trip.

The gap in gas prices between North andSouth Carolinaremains constant due to the 22.4 cent difference in gas taxes. This equates to the difference in gas prices fromNorth CarolinatoSouth Carolina.  When gas prices hit an all time high inCharlottein September of 2008 the price of gas was $4.18. In South Carolina, the cheapest gas during that same time was in theCharlestonmetro area at $3.95 a gallon. The difference in gas prices in September 2008 betweenSouth CarolinaandNorth Carolinawas 23 cents, or roughly the same amount as the difference in gas taxes. Currently there is a 20 cent difference in the cheapest gas prices inNorth CarolinaandSouth Carolina.

Psychologists blame gas signs for the reasons people may drive further for cheaper gas. James B. Duke, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics atDukeUniversity, says that we pass gas stations every day. We know what the exact gas prices are and we spend large amounts of money at the pump at one time.  This combined with remembering how much gas used to cost provides us with a type of sticker shock, leading some to drive long distances to fill up on gas even though they may not be saving any money.

So next time you think you may drive a little further to save a few pennies, calculate how much you actually be saving and see if it is worth it.

To calculate your exact savings visit this website.–Should-I-drive-to-SC-for-gas-163413446.html



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