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.
According to GasBuddy.com, the best price for a gallon of gas in Rancho Bernardo on Wednesday was $3.99 at ARCO. That was less than Wednesday's county average of $4.055, but higher than the average price from a year ago: "just" $3.794, according to the Oil Price Information Service via AAA.
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?