Last year was the most expensive on record for fuel prices, according to the travel group AAA/Arizona. But there are signs that 2013 will be a little gentler on your budget.

AAA's Michelle Donati says gasoline prices are about 20 cents cheaper than they were at this time a year ago, leading analysts to predict that overall, prices will be lower this year than in 2012.

“Triple A does anticipate that prices will peak in the late-spring in the mid-to-high $3.00 range,” Donati says. “And then we believe that prices will drop during the first half of the summer to the mid-$3.00 range and end 2013 at a low or near-low average.”

Donati says demand is low in winter and early spring. Then, as school lets out and families take road trips, consumption and prices pick up. Summer is the most expensive time, then prices decline in the fall.

But, as Donati notes, variables like Gulf hurricanes and unrest in the Middle East can throw a wrench into that cycle and cause prices to spike at a normally stable time.