The Cost of Laziness

On the way to work earlier this week, I stopped at a gas station and filled my tank for $1.74/gallon. The actual price of the gas at this Thorntons station was $1.77, but I had a rewards card which gave me an additional three cents per gallon off. Now for you West coasters and Northeasterners, I’m sure your jaw has dropped at the thought of gas prices being this low. But down South, we’ve been significantly under $2.00 since before the holidays; albeit, that was only a few weeks ago. But given that the average gas price where I live is about $1.86, with bargains like I found at other stations for those willing to look, I’m completely dumbfounded whenever I pass a gas station these days with prices starting above $2.00 and people actually at the pumps filling their tanks. What gives me more of a “scratching my head, I don’t get it,” moment is when I see other stations mere blocks away with prices 10, 20, even 30 cents cheaper than the one where some people are stopping. So I can’t help but wonder, how lazy can you be that in today’s economy, you wouldn’t do just a little homework to find the best gas prices in your community or near your workplace? Certainly not “that” many people could possibly have been on empty and forced to pull in to the first gas station they saw, when a half mile down the road, they could have saved 20 cents a gallon.

Now I know, there are people who think 20 cents is nothing; not worth the extra drive. Those are people I call too lazy for their own good. They don’t completely understand the cost of laziness. You see, it’s not just 20 cents; it’s the cumulative effect of paying more for the same thing, just to avoid taking the time to find something better — and it adds up. Let’s take a vehicle that has a 20 gallon tank. Assuming you’re filling up because you’re on or near empty, that 20 cent difference that doesn’t seem like a big deal right now, actually comes out to be $4.00 more you spent filling up your car, than what the woman down the street saved. What’s $4.00, you say? Well one way you can look at it is this. Let’s assume, regardless of the price of gas, you continue to shop at a station that charges, on average, 20 cents more per gallon. Filling your tank once a week would mean that you just paid $16.00 more that month than you could have saved. If you continue that pattern all year long, then you just spent (better known as wasted) a total of $192.00 that year! Now, I don’t know about you, but I can think of several things I could do with an additional $192. That’s the cost of a carefully selected airline ticket back to my hometown. It’s also about what I paid for my last electric bill, and more than double the cost of my current home gas bill. What’s more, if you take into consideration there are 52 weeks in a year (of course, only one month has exactly four weeks in it), then really, you’ve just spent $208 more that year than I did…all because you’d either prefer maintaining your habit of getting your gas at the same station every time, regardless of the price (yes, there are those people who won’t let anything get in the way of their routine, even when that routine stops making sense). Or, it’s not a matter of routine, but rather laziness — “see station, pull in, gas up, go!”

Interestingly, just this morning a devotional popped in my email. It’s one of those I subscribe to for only weekend delivery, so I thought how fitting and timely that today it would actually be about this very topic that I had already planned to write about.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. Proverbs 6:6-8

For most of us who don’t have the luxury of a lottery win, a trust fund, generously rich relatives, or even hard work, high earning generated income, we have to seek out ways to save the money we have and use it wisely. For me, that means, not going out of my way to find the best gas prices, but rather, making it a point to find out which ones offer the best deals along the routes I’m already taking — to work, to church, to home, even to friend’s houses on a different part of town. It means yes, I shop during Buy One, Get One Free sales; and then only select one of the products (most stores allow that now), which means a 50% savings on something I planned to purchase anyway. It means I try not to run out to do any one errand, but rather hit most places up in between the other destinations I have to do. That means that on my way to my doctor’s appointment, I drop my recycles off at the center going, and stop by the Home Depot to pick up the floodlights I need, on the return. And it also means using coupons – not just for groceries, but for any and everything that’s available. Recently, that meant saving $40.00 on a brake job at a national chain. While I waited for my car repair, I went online and found the savings of $20.00 per brake service. Since I had to have two new brake pads installed, the $40.00 was a huge and welcomed savings (thank you smartphones and wifi!).

The devotional I read, which was from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries, went on to say: consider how many characteristics of the ant people would be smart to adopt:  preparation, cooperation, perseverance, diligence, and unity. 

My ongoing challenge to anyway reading this, is to think about the bigger picture with even the smaller things you do. If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you’re probably one who is looking for ideas on how to save money, or perhaps how to generate more. I hope we have provided some of those ideas for you in the past, and we certainly plan to share much more in the future. But remember, no matter how much money you make, win or inherit, if you spend more than you have, you will be back to living in debt!

Learn instead, how to adjust your lifestyle to a life with your new normal.

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