Mayra Orozco of Santa Rosa keeps an eye on gasoline prices as she drives around town.
Especially at this time of year, when her husband's income from odd jobs, such as painting, drops off.
On Wednesday, Orozco found what she was looking for at the Roseland Gas Mart -- across the street from her daughter's school, Roseland Elementary -- where regular gas was $3.80 a gallon.
"It's a good thing. The cheaper the better," Orozco said after pumping $20 worth into her shiny gray Ford 150 pickup.
The average price for regular gas fell to $3.93 on Wednesday in Santa Rosa, down 16 cents a gallon from a week ago and 71 cents less than a month ago, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, which uses an average of the three preceding days.
A year ago, gas averaged $3.85 in Santa Rosa, the report said.
The website GasBuddy.com, which posts prices reported by motorists, listed 14 Santa Rosa stations selling gas for $3.80 or less on Wednesday.
Orozco said she appreciated the sudden drop in prices, which hit a record $4.65 here on Oct. 9. A few weeks ago she pulled off the freeway in Novato, low on gas, and paid $4.60 a gallon.
"That one hurt," Orozco said.
Declining crude oil prices attributed to slower economic growth, combined with the seasonal shift to cheaper winter-grade gasoline, pushed down prices at the pump, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.
Prices will stay low for the rest of the year, the agency said, noting that the impact of superstorm Sandy adds some uncertainty to the forecast.
Jordan Sandford of Santa Rosa also limited his purchase at Roseland Gas Mart to $20, allowing him a little over five gallons.
"If I bought a full tank, it would take one-fourth of my paycheck," he said.
He appreciated the recent price drop, but at the young age of 21 he remembers when gas was $1.25.
(That was true as recently early 2002, according to California Energy Commission records.)
"I remember it being so cheap," Sandford said. "Makes me wonder if we're at peak oil, or if they're manipulating prices for profit."
Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil and gas company, reported earnings of $34.9 billion for the first nine months of 2012, up 10 percent from the previous year.
You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@ pressdemocrat.com.