How not to save money on gas

Gas Money

Gas Money

I have had a few conversations with friends and family over the years about how to save at the pump, and surely you have heard some of the suggestions too, such as, not using your air conditioner because it will save you a gazillion dollars in gas, and that a waxed vehicle slips through the air and gets better gas mileage.

Recently, I set out to see see if the first one was true, and you can find the results in an earlier blog post of mine entitled, “Is gas mileage affected by your air conditioner?”. Since posting that, I have continued to monitor my mileage very closely and will post an update as I collect more data.

My newest pet peeve is with those who use apps such as “Gas Buddy” on their Android or iPhone smartphone, or use any of the websites that offer the same type of information.

What IS Gas Buddy? It is a connected app that you load on your mobile device, and as you drive along, you can see the cost of gas at nearby stations.  How is that data collected? Much of it is entered by individuals who use the app, so it is usually fresh and up to date.

The idea behind these apps is that if you are in need of fuel for your car, you open the app up and instantly can view the stations near you and their price for gas, and head to one and save a penny, two, or in some cases as much as 10-12 cents PER GALLON. ¬†That’s awesome!

What I take issue with is are those who use the app to find the absolute cheapest price, say 10 cents a gallon cheaper than elsewhere, then brag about how much money they saved. But what they failed to mention to you is that they lost money in the process of saving money.

Let’s think about it for a second. ¬† Assume that your car takes somewhere around 15 gallons of fuel to fill it up, and that you save 10 cents a gallon, that’s $1.50 savings if you opted to drive to the el’cheapo station. Sounds like a great deal. ¬†But is it?

Possibly not. ¬† In many cases, a person drives a few miles out of their way to get that fuel. ¬†For the sake of argument, say five miles. That’s ten miles round trip, and in the case of my vehicle, that’s half a gallon of fuel, at over $3.00 per gallon. Meaning, they just blew their “savings”. Not to mention the wear and tear on the vehicle, and something that may be even more costly – the time to drive there! If you make minimum wage, and you drive 10 extra miles, which could take 15 minutes or more, then you just blew $1.81 worth of your time.

Also consider that fuel may be cheaper for a reason. The quality of it could be less than the higher priced alternatives. Even though it is likely still 87 Octane, it may have additives in it such as ethanol that affect your gas mileage.  My car gets the best mileage when I use non-ethanol fuel, but that comes at a cost, so I opt for the cheap stuff.

What brought this subject up was the fact that a recent conversation revealed a friend drove his truck 8 miles ONE WAY to get fuel, and he saved THREE CENTS per gallon. ¬†His truck takes 25 gallons generally, so he saved 75 ¬†cents, and drove 16 miles. ¬†His truck gets about the same as my car, 20 miles per gallon. ¬† Sooooo, his trip cost him 20 minutes of time and at least $2.25, probably more out of his pocket. When I pointed this out to him, his response was, “But it was cheaper”.

People do that with computers too. One of our clients purchased a new notebook from a major store, and though they said they got a good deal (It was actually the same price as we sell it), they spent over an hour at the store. They bill out their work at over 200 dollars per hour. So in my opinion, they spent an unneeded 200 dollars. ¬†To make the story worse, after they got the computer, it had issues and they spent another hour dealing with it, because you can’t just take it in and drop it off, you have all kinds of hoops to jump through at the big places, and this time of year, the lines for customer service start getting longer.

Next time you head off to “save some money”, take a minute and think about how much you are spending in order to save. ¬†Ten minutes of my time is worth more than saving a dollar. Time is one commodity I don’t have enough of!


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