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Rising gas prices put the brakes on holiday spending

LYNN – “To grandmother’s house we go” this holiday season may be a sentiment that has gone the way of $2 a gallon gasoline.As per gallon prices punch through the three-dollar mark once again, local drivers are trying to figure out how to stretch a dollar during one of the most expensive times of the year.Gift lists, holiday driving requirements and heating oil costs are conspiring to make motorists like Pedro Carillo grateful that he does not have to hustle his family into their car Thursday and drive a long distance to a relative’s house.”At least we’re staying local,” he said.Caron Sanphy isn’t so lucky. She will fulfill a Thanksgiving obligation today by driving a friend up to Maine. Sanphy said gas and heating costs have hit her budget so hard she feels like, “I’m going from middle class to lower class.”Michael Carreiro pays $900 for rent but he anticipates winter heating costs will force him to pay another $300 a month for heating oil. He has tried to save money by following driver conservation tips like keeping his tires inflated and gassing up at night.”It’s pathetic that in 2007 we are still living off fossil fuels. Big business won’t let us get ahead,” he said.Paul Turilli would like to see the federal government crank the spigots on the nation’s oil reserve and give drivers a holiday gift in the form of reduced pump prices. He is keeping an eye on the price of gas as he prepares to holiday shop for his four children.”It all depends on how it fluctuates.”Gasoline prices are up another 2 cents in Massachusetts to just under $3 a gallon. The hike is the fifth documented in as many weeks in a statewide survey by AAA of Southern New England. During that span, prices have risen a total 35 cents a gallon, and are within a nickel of the high price for the year, set in late May.The survey found an average price of $2.99 for a gallon of regular, self-serve gasoline. That compares with $2.97 one week ago. Massachusetts’ average price is 10 cents below the current national average of $3.09 per gallon.Prices at the pump are rising after a recent spike in crude oil prices on the global market.The reason for that spike eludes James Young, a Cadillac owner who plans to curtail his traveling in the face of rising prices but is stopping short of parting with his grey sedan.”You hear a different reason every time you turn around,” he said.

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