Monday, November 28, 2011

Gas discounts: breakdown

A friend recently emailed me about a great deal that one of my local supermarkets is running right now. If I spend $25 on groceries, then I can buy a $50 gas gift card for only $40.

A few hours later the same friend sent out another email that another local grocery store had an even better deal on gas.

Being the savvy shopper that I am, I already knew about both the deals, but her emails prompted me to look even deeper into the discounts to see if it's really a good deal.

Upon closer inspection I noticed that, for me, the $10 discount on gas cards would be a better deal. Here is the breakdown:

I can get gas at my local warehouse store right now for about 3.28/gallon. If I buy 17 gallons of gas, it will cost me $55.76. Of course, there is usually a pretty long line and I would have to go out of my way whenever I want to get gas. (I don't always remember to top off my tank while I'm there to fill up the rest of my car with massive quantities of paper goods.)

If I use the first store's promotion, I can get a gift card for almost any big-name gas station. The lowest gas price in my normal, routine driving radius is going for $3.34/gal. At this price I can get 17 gallons for about 56.78. With the $10 discount it comes to 46.78. I could probably find a lower price, but this is a station I know I can get a gift card for.

The second store's option accrues cents off/gallon type reward points based on the purchase of certain types of groceries. It is affiliated with a specific gas station. The closest of these stations is currently selling gas for about 3.37/gal. With a 10 cent/gallon discount, I can get 17 gallons for $55.59.

Keep in mind that this deal is only good on the first 20 gallons of gas, so its a good thing I don't drive anything with a larger tank. Otherwise I'd have to stop for gas more often to get the full discount. Also, if I accrue enough reward points for a 40 cent/gal discount, my 17 gallons of gas would cost me $50.49.

Of course, as I started looking into these details I thought about another issue. Would I be paying more than necessary for my groceries just to get gas points? If I spend more money on products because I'm shopping at my grocery store instead of one of the "marts", then I'm not really saving any money.

I know that the first store already charges a lot more for their groceries than I can get elsewhere, so the only way the $10 discount would be worth it is if I can use a bunch of coupons on my purchases and only buy things that are on sale. The second store is only slightly cheaper, but the things that count toward gas rewards are name-brand items that I wouldn't normally buy. When all is said and done, I guess if I want to save the most money I'll have to stay on top of this all the time.

Or, there's the option I haven't mentioned yet. (Aren't I sneaky for keeping this information till the very end). I could always trust God to take care of me, as He always has. I can relax and enjoy life and not worry about saving a few pennies here and there. Of course, I'm not advocating a total waste of my resources. I'm just saying that unless I can get a really amazing deal I'm not going to spend hours of my life worrying about a couple of dollars I might be able to save.

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