$4 gas has consumers rethinking their habits, lifestyle

Rising gas prices
All across the country, Americans are adjusting to the reality of $4 a gallon and higher gas prices.
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Remember when $3 a gallon gas seemed shocking? Well it just as shocking at $3.49 too, and at $3.76, and at $3.99 point 9. But there's something about crossing the $4 mark that really makes people sit up and grip the steering wheel.

"The $4 a gallon mark just really seemed out there. I didn't think it would come to be honest with you," St. Paul resident Mary Magan said.

Magan has already made some changes. She started taking a bus to her job in Minneapolis a few weeks ago when gas was nearing the $4 mark.

Now that it's crossed that threshold, Magan says she's going to work harder to keep gas prices from overwhelming her household budget.

I think a lot of people like myself might have said $4, because we thought it would never actually get there.

"Because I still do want to do things. I still would like to take vacations. I still would like to go places, but now I have to learn how to do it with the resources I have, i.e. my budget and what I have as an income," Magan said.

Magan's number one strategy to deal with the high price of gas is to drive less, or drive smarter.

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That's what Doug Mayo is doing. The semi-retired real estate development consultant from Edina says his family has been trying to use less gas for years, mostly by buying fuel efficient cars. But he's added another trick, before heading out to do errands, Mayo first figures out the most efficient way to carry out the trip.

"When it's time to go shopping, go to the drugstore, go to the post office, we'll sit down and make a list of where all the places we have to go and think in our minds what's the most efficient route to hit all those spots without having to backtrack," Mayo said.

Some commuters where already cutting back on travel to save gas long before the $4 fuel milestone was reached. Mark Gibbons of Robbinsdale is an IT consultant who takes the bus to his job in downtown Minneapolis everyday. But the new high mark means a change for a couple members of his family.

"We have two college aged children, we've been paying for their gas mainly because they use their cars to get to and from school and their jobs, but we've decided we're only buying them one tank of gas a week from now on, and it helps them conserve a little bit when it's not all coming out of mom and dad's pocket," Gibbons said.

Gibbons says his family has already cut back on as much travel as they can. From now any increase in the cost of gas will need to come out of other areas of their family budget.

And as far as people promising a change in their driving behavior when gas hits four dollars?

"I think a lot of people like myself might have said $4, because we thought it would never actually get there," Gibbons said.

Gibbons thinks motorist tend to get excited about fuel prices when they hit a new round number. And he expects we'll hear more grumbling when the next milestone is reached, and gas stations start displaying $5 a gallon.