Q&A: How much money you just saved on gas in 2015
NEW YORK - The Saudis are tightening their belts this year which can mean only one thing: you're saving a bucket load on gasoline. Massive stockpiles of crude globally have turned 2015 into the year of the pain-free fill up. High five your local gas pump, buckle up and hit the road America, because more of the same is likely on the way in 2016. Here's a quick breakdown of the numbers this year, courtesy of the AAA.
ONE FOR THE OIL MAN, TWO FOR ME
Americans saved a collective $115 billion plus this year on trips to the gas station. The average licensed driver, you, pocketed more than $550, or about enough to buy a high-end hoverboard and a fire extinguisher. The average price for a gallon of gas never broke $3 this year, and it dipped below $2 in December, the first time that's happened since the Great Recession in 2009.
I WANT TO CELEBRATE NEW YEAR'S WITH A ROADTRIP ... HOW'S THE CORNER GAS STATION LOOK RIGHT NOW?
No better New Year's Eve than the present. If you filled up right now, you'd be paying on average less than you had on the past seven New Year's Eves. The national average price for a gallon of gas right now is $2, the lowest since 2008. But you'd likely pay less. About 71 percent of gas stations are selling gas for less than $2 per gallon, and 16,000 stations are charging less than $1.75. Just don't drive to California, Nevada, Washington, Alaska, or, if you have an amphibious vehicle in the garage, Hawaii. Those are the five states where gas costs $2.47 or more.
IT'S NOT FAIR, BUT THERE IT IS CALIFORNIA
No one paid as much as Californians for gas this year, which is the bad news. The good news is that it's the first time that's ever happened and also, the average price in California was $3.16 per gallon, still pretty cheap. The culprit: unplanned maintenance at your refineries. On the opposite end of the spectrum and the country, the Southeastern U.S. is rolling in gas savings. For the fourth year in a row, South Carolina was the lowest countrywide, clocking in at an average of $2.10 per gallon this year. If $3.16 is bumming you out California, also consider a move to Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, or Louisiana, which in addition to South Carolina, served up the biggest gas savings of 2015.
I WAS BORN IN 1998 SO I CAN'T DRIVE UNTIL NEXT YEAR, WHAT ABOUT ME?
Welcome to the savings club barely millennials, your job prospects are looking better and the gas pump beckons you with low, low prices. The AAA estimates that the annual average price of gas in 2016 will be between $2.25 and $2.45 per gallon, which would be cheaper or at least comparable to this year's average of $2.40 per gallon. Some industry analysts believe that cutbacks by U.S. producers will trim the huge surplus oil, and gasoline prices will rise as a result. But remember, oil is a global game and with sanctions being eased, Iran wants badly to join in. During a two-day conference in November, some 50 major oil, gas and petrochemical projects were introduced in Tehran. That, for anyone who buys gas, points to a buyer's market in 2016.