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Summer is usually the time of year when you can ditch the books and head to the beach. At least, that was when gas prices were lower. The price of a gallon of gas is a dollar higher than a year ago, making it more expensive for teens to get around. We asked our teen staff writers how high gas prices affected them this summer. 

I found fun closer to home

Whenever my friends and I hang out and don’t know what to do, we usually ask the friend who is driving, “How far are you willing to drive?” When gas prices weren’t so high, my friends were willing to drive as far as The Grove shopping mall, about 30 miles from where I live in Hacienda Heights. Now they usually answer with something like “five miles.” We’ve had trouble deciding where to go because of high gas prices. I didn’t even get to go the beach this summer!
    One time my friends and I decided to grab some frozen yogurt. We parked and sat in the car in the parking lot of a local Target, eating our frozen yogurt, stumped about what to do next. We wanted to do something adventurous and out of the ordinary. We threw out suggestions like Birch Street in Brea (16 miles from us) and a shopping plaza in Whittier (7 miles away). But most of them were answered with, “Next time we can do that.” We ended up eating at a local Vietnamese restaurant and hanging out at a friend’s house. I wouldn’t call that adventurous, but I can’t say that I didn’t have fun. My friends and I aren’t able to have out-of-the-ordinary adventures anymore, but we’ve found things to do close by that we probably wouldn’t have thought of if it weren’t for high gas prices.
Allison Ko, 16, Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)

My friends appreciated me giving them more gas money

Before gas prices went up, whenever I went out with my friends, I’d make sure to have $5 in my wallet to give to the person driving. I am a big believer in gas money, as I rarely drive myself. It makes the driver appreciate you more and want to drive you around again. I live in Baldwin Hills, which is near Culver City. When my friends and I go out we drive to Melrose Avenue, Malibu and Hollywood. But now, because of higher gas prices, I have to reach into my wallet and pull out five more dollars for my friend who’s driving me around. That’s $10! That means every time I go out, I’m losing 10 extra dollars that aren’t even going to the “me” fund. I go out at least three times a week. That’s $10 a day, $30 a week and $120 a month on GAS ALONE.
Alex Key, 16, Besant Hill School

The bus is a cheap way to get around

My family doesn’t drive. We take buses and the subway so the price of gas doesn’t affect us. Taking the bus and subway, I travel to school, to The Grove to hang out with friends and to church almost every Sunday. Despite the price of gas, I’ve been able to go to places I want and need to go. This summer I took an art class at Los Angeles City College and visited my mom at USC where she works. It’s not good for the economy that the price of gas is going up, but I believe that teens have much to learn from using the buses and subway instead of relying on an adult to drive them or driving themselves. I feel as though I am more self-reliant. Yes, using the Metro system requires planning your trip, knowing how often the bus comes and how many stops it is to get from one place to another. It took me a few days to figure it out by looking online at and finding the routes to places I wanted to go, but taking the bus and subway rather than paying for gallons of gas makes it worth it.
Aaron Sayago, 17, Fairfax HS

Nickels and dimes didn’t get me very far

Gas prices have drastically affected my life during the past year. As a teen, it’s already hard finding something cheap and fun to do, but now transportation has become a problem because of the price of gas.
    My friend drives a Mustang and I have a Tahoe. During the summer we’d try to make plans to go out but end up debating on the phone over whose car has more gas. Whoever had more gas would be responsible for driving. Sometimes these debates continued all day, and I’d go multiple days without seeing my friends. The gas prices have been so insane that most of the time I found myself sitting around the house watching movies.
    If gas had been about $2 a gallon instead of more than $4, life would have been simpler this summer. I would have most likely spent the majority of my time just driving around and exploring different cities like I had always plan to do when I was younger.
    Instead, when I went out with my friends and it was time to pay either for gas or food, I always ended up paying with nickels and dimes. I usually get the money from cleaning my dad’s room, he’s not a big fan of change so he leaves it lying on his dresser.
When I bought food I tried to spend about $2, which meant the dollar menu became very useful (also, it was less embarrassing for me). When I paid for gas I had to use every last cent just to make a gallon.
    One of the most embarrassing times I had was in June at a small gas station in Downey. All I had was $2 for my empty gas tank. I paid the gas attendant in nickels and dimes. She looked at me as if I was crazy considering gas was almost $5 a gallon at the time. I bought less than half a gallon, but I only had to go a quarter mile to my house. When I had gotten back to the car my best friend began laughing at me and did not stop till we got home.
    It’s hard to go out, and asking my dad for money is very difficult considering he is very frugal about things. I usually get $20 from him every two to three weeks. Finding things to do on this budget is very difficult. If gas prices keep getting worse, I’ll be paying in pennies for sure by the fall.
Britawnya Craft, 17, Warren HS (Downey)

Online classes saved me money

This summer to get a taste of college, I decided to take classes through East Los Angeles College. But rather than take the traditional lecture/lab classes, I took them online because of the outrageously high gas prices, which approached $5 per gallon. Throughout Summer Session 1, my class met only once at ELAC for the course orientation. We met in the library classroom and watched the professor show us how to navigate the class website. At home, I read on my own and used the computer to take quizzes and write papers.
    By taking online philosophy and sociology classes and not driving my 1990 Nissan Maxima (which gets about 18 miles per gallon) to school, I saved about $25 on gas a week. The two classes were supposed to cost me $120, but the tuition was waived because I’m still a high school student. With the money I saved, I was able to drive a longer distance to hang out with my best friends at the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena and The Americana in Glendale. The difference between online class and a regular lecture/lab class is that you learn mostly on your own time.
    Online classes gave me more freedom with how I learn and when. The requirements were to log on three times a week and finish assignments and tests before deadlines. Sometimes I had difficulty with deadlines and motivation because I procrastinate. I waited until the last minute to start sociology papers and take philosophy quizzes, but I always made the deadlines.
    During Summer Session 1, I took sociology and philosophy, which I could transfer to a UC or Cal State. Many kids at my school attend community college as a way to dazzle university admissions officials. I’m keeping up with the kids at my school, and saving gas at the same time.
Amanda Ly, 16, Mark Keppel HS (Alhambra)