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Americans Spend $386.09 Monthly on Gasoline

Posted: May 05, 2011 10:21 a.m.

If you don’t keep track of your gas receipts, you might want to start. You're probably spending more on gas each month than you realize.

A recent study the Oil Price Information Service did for CNNMoney found that the average American household spent $368.09 on gas in April. That’s college textbooks for one semester, two weeks of groceries or two 16 GB iPod Nanos.

“The study, which compared average gas prices with median incomes nationwide,” writes CNNMoney, “also showed that U.S. households spent nearly 9% of their total income on gas last month.” That nine percent jump is $194.29 more than the $173.80 Americans spent in 2009.

The portion of income that goes toward gasoline varies from state to state. For example, gas in Mississippi hovers around $3.60, according to MississippiGasPrices.com, which is about 40 cents below the national average. In April, Mississippians spent about 14% of their income on gas, or $434.52, in part because incomes are lower there. The median household earns $36,646 a year. The monthly average is also higher because commutes are longer and more people drive older cars that aren’t fuel-efficient.

Americans who live in large cities tend to spend the least. Thanks to efficient public transportation, New York households spent 5.5% of their income on gasoline, and Washington D.C. households spent 2 percent of their income, or $89. There is one more caveat: Incomes in these areas are much higher, especially compared to Mississippi.

Unfortunately, the nearly $370 or more you spend each month to fuel your car may only increase. Today, AAA reports that the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is just 1.5 cents shy of four dollars. With summer approaching and turmoil continuing in the Middle East, these numbers are expected to rise. To combat rising gas prices, you could do as the Washingtonians do and take public transportation. The American Public Transportation Association says that taking the bus or subway could save you up to $1,200 a month – enough to buy a new car, take a vacation or buy the latest MacBook Pro.

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