I was JUST thinking about this on the ride in this morning when I passed the Shell station at the corner of Platt and Ellsworth when I saw regular fuel at $4.25 a gallon: “Man, I wish I could buy gas at today’s price tomorrow”.
That’s basically what oil futures are: speculators decide that they think the price of oil is going to rise, invest in futures and watch their money go through the roof. More people make money, more speculate and the price goes up. It’s the phenomenon that many economists think is leading the surge in oil prices today, beating out real market supply and demand economics and essentially crushing our transportation infrastructure.
The theory is identical to what Southwest Airlines did. Back when oil was at believable prices, that airline decided to hedge their oil purchases and lock in prices at the past rate of $51/barrel. Now that fuel is at over $140, they’re making a killing over other airlines.
Now, with gasoline at $4.25 a gallon, you can purchase as many gallons as you want at that price with MyGallons.com and watch the market fluctuate independent of your fuel consumption. If gas keeps surging to $5.00 a gallon? You’ve just saved a bunch of money. If it drops to $2.50 again? You’re out.
Based on how many gallons you buy, the service sends you a “debit” card that lets you purchase as much fuel (per gallon, not dollar) as you have stored up.
The crux of your investment is on where you think the price of the oil is going to head. If you, like many others, think that the price will keep going up, now might be a good time to buy your MyGallons card before your summer road trip.
Subscription to the MyGallons service ranges from $30-$40 per year, but if gas keeps going up that will be a drop in the bucket compared to what you could save.