Gas prices on the rise, now what? (Update: Cheaper gas and an app for that)

Flickr user Brian A. Sayrs

Update February 27, 2012: Looks like gas is still on the rise and local media is all over it (here and here), we have nothing really to add other than some ways to help you save some money.

We all know you can join one of the big box warehouse stores but that $50 membership might be all you have to pay for gas, so not everyone can afford it and the two stores locally, Costco and Sam's, while centrally located offer nothing in the way of convenience for those who live on the north or south ends of the beach.

However, Walmart-owned Murphy USA always offers cheaper gas than the competition (about three cents), but the deal is a little sweeter with their MurPay service. MurPay functions like a debit card but works through your phone with text messaging. You have to set up the service online, then you'll enjoy the cheapest gas within the last 24 hours, be able to pay at the pump, and even use it to make purchases for snacks and drink in the store. Murphy USA offers individual, family, and business accounts and there are four locations within 50 miles. Check out MurPay here

Another great thing for smartphone users is a gas app that shows you the cheapest gas in the area. There are dozens of them for both iPhone and Android, but for iPhone our favorite is Tank Pro (there is also a free version here).

First Report: Our local media has been all over the story about gas prices on the rise this week.  One suggests  they could go as high as $5 a gallon.  That's crazy talk and we should all freak out, right?  Not so much.  Let's take a minute to review a bit of history, shall we?

From an editorial point of view, every year we see the newscast of the person at the pump being asked if the rising gas prices will affect their holiday season/spring break/long weekend/summer travel plans.  While it's a valid point of interest, the storyline just isn't new. has great historical data for gas prices by metro-area.  In Myrtle Beach we saw prices closing in on $4 per gallon in July and September of 2008.  Between February and May of 2010, we saw a sharp increase of approximately $1, taking the price from about $2.75 to $3.75 per gallon.  You can check out a full six-year graphical display of gas prices in our area here.

While this feels a bit like history repeating itself, that's not meant to downplay the situation.  The unemployment rate is still high, with a latest report of 10% in DecemberOver 16% of us live at or below the poverty line.  Even the most herculean efforts to immediately invest in local sources of oil couldn't stop the pain many Grand Strand families will feel when they fill-up. 

So what's the answer?  Our public transportation system is limited and not always a feasible option.  We experience traffic situations where we're forced to idle during stoplight cycles.  Last, our area is spread out.  Medical specialties are great examples.  The majority of specialists are around Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.  That means if you live in Conway or Little River, you'll likely need to trek on down to the beach to see the necessary doctor.  Need a pediatric specialist of almost any variety?  Set your GPS for the children's hospital at MUSC in Charleston.  

Since our need to drive is difficult to reduce, perhaps the focus should be on how  we do it.  Does driving in reverse use more gas?  Which do you think is better - drive-thru or walk-in service at your favorite fast food restaurant?  Which uses less fuel, a slow acceleration or pedal to the metal?  Here is a list of 101 tips for saving gas from  Skim over one through ten as they speak more to residents of urban areas.  The take-away here is that while we're all victims to the skyrocketing prices, everyone can take steps to lessen the impact on our wallets.

See what other Grand Strand media is saying about gas prices:
Rising gas prices could derail economic recovery - WBTW
Spring gas prices could hurt Grand Strand tourism - WMBF
Myrtle Beach area gasoline prices increasing - Sun News
Experts: Gas could hit $5 a gallon by summer - WPDE

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