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The price of paradise is getting higher ... at the gas pump

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Gas Prices

HONOLULU -- Gas is taking a bigger chunk of the household budget these days. 

Shuttling kids around town has gotten expensive for John Kao. He said he easily drops a $100 on gas just on the weekends.

"Unfortunately, you know, you got to go where you got to go so you just have to pay ... the money," Kao said. "And that for some people, is going be really hard."

Holly Yamachika said she understands the pain. She drives a six-passenger van to accommodate her three kids, including one who's in a wheelchair.

"It's really crazy. I spend $350 a month on gas and it's a necessity cause I have to pick up my kids everyday from school," she said. "Even if we're working remotely it's just so crazy having to pay for ... $350 a month is like a car payment."

Hawaii already has the second-highest average gas prices in the nation. And according to finance experts, it's just the beginning of what's to come.

Eric Mais, a professor of finance at the University of Hawaii, said the shocking prices are here to stay at least for the foreseeable future.

"Certainly I think supply chain problems are predicted to last well into next year," Mais said. "So perhaps by the end of 2022, we'll see shipping get back to normal and who knows what's going to happen with gas prices, but we have had historically low prices for quite a while. And those days might be over."

Mais said the cost of crude oil went from around $40 a barrel a few years ago and slowly crept up to about $80, with some forecasts predicting the price could go as high as $120. As the economy rebounds, simple supply and demand is what's driving up prices in addition to supply-chain problems.

"We're all ready to get out and get back to our normal life pre-pandemic. And here in Hawaii we like to enjoy being in the outdoors," he said. "And now as consumers are starting to get back to normal, we're starting to drive more."

But living that lifestyle will cost you.

"There's no cruising around on the weekends anymore," Yamachika said.

So what can we do to keep gas bills down?  Mais said we can carpool, combine errands into one trip and drive with a lighter touch on the gas pedal.

Produced in partnership with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

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