Ah, the romance of the open road; the sun is shining, the windows are down – you are ready for adventure. You stop for gas and a soft drink taking a moment of pause in your day. After opening your soft drink, you fire up the engine and go on your way. Five minutes later, you’re unlocking the door at home. Wait. What just happened? OK, the actual scenario is this: you make your way around town running a few errands, stopping at the furniture store, the bank, & then stop at the gas station, picking up a soda. You’re right – it’s only a buck & some change. But how often do you do it? Every week? Twice a week?
Today, we examine the component of shopping at the grocery store versus the convenience store as the next component of “Saving Money…The Hard Way Made Easy.” It’s not the “once in a while” pick-up at the gas station or convenient store that adds up, it’s the weekly stop. Add up the times you’ve grabbed a quick pop on the road, and it could be a small fortune. There’s an easier way to have a soft drink or water on hand to quench your thirst when you are running errands: grab it on your way out the door and have it in the car already. Shopping at the grocery store or discount store instead of the convenient store or gas station shop can save you money.
Convenience stores and gas stations charge a higher price on most products due to limited selection, lack of volume buying power, and, of course, to reach a higher profit margin. These stores serve an essential purpose in a product “emergency,” but also prey on your impulse to buy. Don’t get me wrong, I fall victim to that evildoer Temptation just as much as anyone else. There are times those products are calling me when I’m in the store to pay for gas. But I always try to rationalize: how much I need that extra product, how close am I to home, and does it make sense to purchase? Granted, those gate-keeping questions take the fun out of instant gratification purchases, but they also keep more money in my pocket.
This doesn’t mean that your local grocery store or discount store is always your best bet to assure yourself of the lowest cost. You still have to watch advertisements for sales. And, unless you’re in a pinch, buying your hardware or food storage containers at the grocery store is not going to save you any money, either. But, if you pick-up your soft drinks, water, juice drinks, and to-go snacks at the grocery store, and have them on hand to put in the car for your errand runs, you will save on the higher costs on those at the convenient store or gas station.
It’s not always the big purchases that make the difference in our wallets, pocketbooks, & savings accounts, it’s the small ones – the small purchases we don’t necessarily notice or evaluate as significant. What we have a tendency not to miss are the nickels & dimes. That’s what convenience stores & gas stations are counting on: our impulse to buy rationalizing out the missing nickels & dimes. There’s nothing wrong with a quick stop when you’re on the open road, but save it until you’re actually on the open road instead of five minutes from home.