For the second time in less than a week, prices at the pump have jumped. This time up to $3.69 a gallon. Petroleum industry analysts have speculated that the price could be over $4 a gallon as a national average by April. Talk of $5 a gallon by Memorial Day is being bandied about.

So why is gas going up? Mainly, it is due to speculation. Crude Oil and Unleaded Gasoline are sold as separate products on the commodities markets, so what it costs to make has very little to do with what we pay for it. Oil was trading this afternoon at around $106 a barrel (55 gallons), while Unleaded Gas is going for $3.09 according to

That's the price speculators are paying for gas on the wholesale market. That is before transportation costs, taxes and profit are factored in. They are betting that people are willing to pay more, and more and more. Expect the prices to continue to rise until people stop paying the prices that are being charged. Classic supply and demand.

There are many ways to cut back on fuel consumption. If you have to drive, make sure your tires are properly inflated and that your vehicle is tuned up to run at top efficiency. Drive slower. Car pool. Use public transit. Combine trips to pick up groceries, and other family needs. Make your kids walk to activities, especially if they are reasonably close to home. A little walking won't hurt you, either. Seriously. Raise your hand if you have driven your SUV 3 miles or less to the gym to ride a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill.

Eliminating a lot of short trips or biking or hoofing it can add up to some real savings. I do a lot of these things already, and it's fun to beat the oil companies at their own game. You might lose a few unwanted pounds in the process. Or you can cough up 4 and 5 bucks a gallon. I know what I'm going to do.