The Fight To Be Frugal
Gas is $3.19 a gallon near our house. So we drove down the road where we know it's going to be less, $2.95 a gallon last night in Ypsilanti. Since we needed to visit the Secretary of State to purchase vehicle plates, I dropped Wendy off there and drove to get the cheap(er) gas.
Cars were lined up, even blocking part of a five-lane highway. When I got in line myself, cars were turned every which way trying to maneuver. It was like the bumper car ride at the local amusement park, except cars were inches away from eachother trying NOT to bump. Soon I learned why. There was only one pump open. But I was in the right line, quietly waiting, happy as a clam, as horns blew and drivers stewed around me.
That's me. I'll go the extra mile to save a dime. I have one of those rewards credit cards from the local department store, which occasionally has a special day where I can save 15 percent on general merchandise. This includes phone cards. Since we have one of those cell phones where you pay for minutes by purchasing a pre-loaded phone card, I can save $3 on a $20 card.
But last time I tried this, there were no $20 phone cards to be found in the store. They started at $30 and went up. We don't use our cell phone card that much. Has anyone noticed the conspiracy afoot with businesses all trying to get you to consume more than you ordinarily would? Like discount coupons you clip now ask you to buy multiple quantities before you get a discount?
Bunch a hooey, I say. So I went scouting for a $20 phone card. Inspected each check-out line, since I knew they usually stock them there. Only $30 or $50 cards. Dang! So I went back to where they sold them in bulk. Maybe hidden among them was a $20 card. Bingo! I had to remove about 100 $30 cards from their spool and replace them, but I got my $20 card. And I only paid $17 for it. El Cheapo Dave strikes again.
Frequent flier miles, loyalty programs, stores like Costco and Sam's Club where you pay a tidy annual membership for the privilege of buying in bulk, buy now pay later . . . I say beware. It's a fight to be frugal. Here's a little story I heard recently: my cousin went to a casino with $50 to spend. Of course, many casinos now have slots that don't accept quarters or coins of any kind. You pre-pay your money and get a card that resembles a credit card, then insert the card into the slot machine of your choice.
My cousin did that, putting her card into the slot machine and pushing the button to spin the wheel of fortune. Except that she inadvertently pushed the wrong button. Instead of betting a quarter or a dollar, she was letting it all ride. One spin, goodbye $50. I think these cards are a win-win proposition for the casinos; how many others have made similar mistakes?
So back to my cheap gas. It took me nearly a half hour, but I got it. Then I drive on to the Secretary of State, hoping that Wendy was finished there. Nope. She had taken a number along with about 50 other people waiting there. See, Michigan has closed many of its Secretary of State offices in its efforts to save the state money. It would be more than another half hour before we would finally get our turn.
*Sigh* Everyone's fighting to be frugal nowadays.