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Budget Buster: Families Spend $3K a Year on Gas

New government estimates say families are spending nearly $3,000 a year just to fill up their gas tanks.

Families are devoting more of their money to gas these days than they have in most of the past 30 years, according to new estimates in a U.S. energy report.

The average American household spent $2,912—or about 4 percent of its gross income—on gas in 2012, according to estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is a bigger drain on the family budget than at any time in the past three decades except 2008, when the gas grab was about the same.

What may be frustrating for some to hear is that while gas consumption has gone down in recent years, the budget burden has only gotten worse as gas prices have increased.

Back in the early 1980s, families were spending more than 5 percent of their income on gas but traveling much less than we do today. Since then, fuel efficiency has increased significantly, making it cost less per mile for us to get where we're going. However, while U.S. gas consumption was at its lowest level in 10 years in 2011, average gas prices increased that year by 26.1 percent and then again by 3.3 percent last year, according to the EIA.

Tell us: How much is your family spending on gas? What do you do to save money?

Jodi T. February 08, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Commuter bus - I work for the State and travel in from Roseville. The State also subsidizes for use of public transportation. Saves us tremendously.
Frank Geefay February 08, 2013 at 07:24 PM
I think that if you look as the overall cost of car ownership including insurance, car payments, license fees, smog device checks, spreading the purchase price of cars over the years of ownership, maintenance, accidents, etc. the true cost of driving may be 3 to 4 times this high, let us say $10,000 per year. That is about $900 per month. I totally agree with the comment above, take public transit if you can. It will cost far less and reduce the stress of driving in busy traffic or caught in gridlock. It will also allow you to do some work during your commute such as using your computer (increasingly more public transit systems have free WiFi), safely making calls, or simply catching up on some sleep. Rent a brand new car when you want to take long trips or need a certain type of car for a special occasion. It is still cheaper than owning one all the time. Perhaps you cannot totally eliminate car ownership but you can reduce the number of cars a family owns and drive far less to reduce insurance, gas, and maintenance costs. It is also better for the environment and reduces our dependency on fossil fuels and foreign oil. Buy a nice bike instead and get some exercise for local commutes. Incidentally this will also save you time spent driving, money spent maintaining, and prolong your life by reducing stress and accidents.
SalthePlumber February 08, 2013 at 07:28 PM
As long as Petroleum is traded on an international exchange, the Oil Companies, Hedge Funds and wealthy investors will keep the prices see-sawing in EVERY quarter. What will now NEVER change, is the exorbitant profits being extracted from all gas buyers. Isnt it OBVIOUS?!
Lucas February 09, 2013 at 04:16 AM
Just put an Obama bumper sticker on your car and everything will run on solar powered windmills. Also, there will be more unicorns and rainbows!
SalthePlumber February 09, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Low IQ a problem for you? No original thoughts? Blame Obama.
Robert Livesay February 10, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Just wait till we tap the Monterey shale oil field here in California. It will be the second gold rush. It will be great for the economy. You know jobs and more taxes for this wonderful state. The Enviro Greenies want to bring us back to the early 1900's. This state is a leader in enviromental issues but has gone to far on regulations. Regulations are good but at the same time tech is making those regs obsolete. Think oil and everyone will be just fine. Sal the Plumber the Enviro Greenies want to put you out of business with those new goofy inside toilets that are serviced by an outside source. Did not we get rid of the outhouse, bed pans for sewer and inside flush toilets. Sal think about it for a moment. Sal please nio name calling.
SalthePlumber February 10, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Robert LIVEs to SAY very little that is useful... That would be an apt name for you... Think Oil? Why dont you try to think at all?? "Goofy inside toilets that are serviced by an outside source?" You mean like, sewer lines that run to a treatment plant?? Where do you live Bob? I think you are from the Planet Morro. You sound like a Morron...
Robert Livesay February 10, 2013 at 10:21 PM
No! like a truck that picks up the crap and takes it away. Talk about a moron, Sal you can not spell. Your a plumber?
M.Legison February 12, 2013 at 02:33 AM
$3,000 a year? We're closer to $12,000 for two of us, but with one H2 and one 8 cyl. 4Dr lux sedan that's the price for us.
Vito Spago February 12, 2013 at 07:30 AM
It is only money folks. Just deal with it. it is the new Obama economy. Will only get worse. Enjoy. BTW, wait until you see your bill for Obamacare. $12k+ a year but do not worry. The illegals will thank you for paying for their medical care.
SalthePlumber February 12, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Got not much to say? Skimming the facts? Blame Obama. The refuge of the uninformed...
SalthePlumber February 12, 2013 at 05:42 PM
You have Crap on the brain? I suspect you have a Sh*tty mind. Second-rate at best...

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