First Person: We Spent 4.8% Of Our Income on Gas in 2012

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According to a report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in February 2013, American households spent an average of $2,912 on gasoline in 2012. That is about 4% of the average income. With an average gas price of $3.64 a gallon in 2012, it's no wonder shoppers are spending more than ever at the gas pumps.

As a middle class family of two, my husband and I have really taken a hit on our gas budget in recent years. Several years ago, we were able to budget around $100 a month for gasoline, but for past few years our gas budget has jumped to $200 a month or more. Here is how we are budgeting for gas now, what we spent on gasoline in 2012, and what we are doing with any money we've saved.

Our gasoline budget

In the past year gas prices in our area have been on a roller coaster ride to say the least. At one point the prices at the pump hit $4.15, and got as low as $2.90 per gallon. Right now, the prices seem to be on the rise again with the average price per gallon at $3.59 at most stations. My husband and I budget $200 a month for fuel, and at the current prices we are left with just $13.32 remaining. I'm hoping beyond hope that prices stabilize and/or begin to fall again so we don't have to increase our budget again.

How much we spent in 2012

Our total gas budget for all of 2012 was $2,400, or 4.8% of my husband's income, and early in the year I was worried it wasn't going to be enough. However, prices fell late in the year, which really helped. According to my records, we spent $2,262 on gasoline in 2012, which was $138 less than we budgeted.

What we are doing with the money we saved

Last year, I made the decision to stop lowering our fuel budget when prices fell, which meant if we spent less than $200 a month on gas we would have money left in that budget. Instead of reallocating those funds, I put that money into a "gas saving" to use later if or when the prices went up again. Our gas savings is currently at $172, and we are still adding to it, but if the prices keep rising I fear we will have to tap into that money far sooner than I was hoping.

My family spent $650 less than the average household in 2012, but our overall gas budget percentage is above that of other households. Spending nearly 5% of our income of gasoline seems insane, and I'm always hopeful that some permanent relief will come soon, but until then, we are forced to continue to adjust our budget to cover the cost.

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