It’s hard to stick to a personal financial plan when prices for basic necessities keep increasing. Though most economists insist that inflation is under control in the U.S., rising gas prices could become a real budget buster through the remainder of 2011. Recently, the average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline hit $3.88, reaching its highest level since 2008.
Energy analysts see more price hikes ahead. Three-quarters of Americans drive to and from work (alone). So it makes sense that the average car-owner uses about 550 gallons of gas per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s most recent data. At a price of, say, $4-per-gallon, many of us are spending about $2,200 a year on gasoline. Until we’re all zipping in electric cars, the best way to economize (apart from driving less) is to make sure we’re getting the best price for gas.
To help you manage the rising price of gas, I recommend these three mobile apps that can help you find the lowest gas prices wherever you happen to be driving:
- 1) GasBuddy, available for free on BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, and Windows devices.
- 2) Fuel Finder, a $2.99 iPhone-only app that promises to save you about $300 a year.
- 3) AAA TripTik Mobile, a free iPhone and Android app.
Each of the apps and websites work virtually the same: punch in the name of the city or town you’re in (or the zip code), and the app spits out a map showing the location of several nearby gas stations along with their current per gallon price for “regular” gas. When I entered my own zip code in New Jersey, MSN’s tool, for instance, displayed about 12 gas stations within a five-mile radius of my home. Prices at these local pumps ranged anywhere from a high of $4.08 to a comparatively cheap $3.69. Guess where I’m filling up next time the tank’s empty?