Worry About the Nickels & the Dimes

“If you worry about the nickels and dimes, the dollars will take care of themselves.”

Continuing the Legacy

These are Poppa Chuck’s words, not mine, but as he has passed on, I have taken them as my own to use as he did – to teach others about money! No words have ever been said better. I am writing to my younger friends today: teens and early college students who need somebody to educate them about money – before it’s too late. See, when your parents were in high school, we had a ton of elective classes, and the option to take 16 AP courses or extra DC classes wasn’t even a thing, so we all took electives like home economics, where you learned to iron clothes, sew a little, and follow recipes. We took banking courses, and you learned how to balance a checkbook, and you learned what credit and interest were.

Today, all of my younger friends use debit cards for their money transactions, and they know their balances because the receipts at the ATM tell them, or the banking apps on their phones will show them. One thing I love about a debit card is that you are using your own money; so that’s just like using cash. And if you only spend cash or what you have in your account, you can never get into trouble with overspending. But, I said in my opening sentence, we need to watch the nickels and dimes, so let’s look at those seemingly unimportant coins first. Very quickly, I will explain how much paying attention to the little money can add up and make you wealthy over the years. But you have to realize that there are tricks to making you wealthy, and you have to know them.

My Favorite Tip

My favorite tip involves a weekly activity that is necessary; do you pull into the first gas station you see when you need gasoline, or do you look for the lowest price per gallon? If you pull into the station closest to your house or school, stop that habit NOW! There is an app called Gasbuddy, and it is free. Download it on your phone, and type in your zip code (not while driving). That app will tell you how much gas costs at all of the area stations on that day. Today, I needed gas, so I used my app. The least expensive pumps for regular unleaded were $2.34 per gallon at a Walmart Neighborhood Market about two miles from my home. A more popular and closer convenience store was $2.75, and a station on Stateline (about 4 miles from my home) was at $2.99 per gallon for the same regular unleaded. There is a reason we call these gas stations with snacks in them “CONVENIENCE STORES”; they are easy to get to for soft drinks, bread, milk, and fuel, and you can avoid the grocery store. People tend to use the ones closest to their homes because they are convenient. But, look at the difference in prices of fuel at the same time on the same day in the same city. Maybe you live by the station on Stateline and pull in and pay $2.99 a gallon, unaware that there is a station less than 3 miles from you that is $.65 less per gallon. Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t have time to worry about going three miles over for 65 cents a gallon.” Really???? I say you have to make time to save money, or you will never be wealthy.

Break it Down

Let’s break it down together. A Ford F-150 holds 36 gallons. If you pull into a gas station and fill up 36 gallons at $2.99, you will pay $107.64 to fill up. BUT, if you had driven 3 miles to that Neighborhood Walmart where gas is $2.34 a gallon, you would fill up your truck for $84.24, and you would save $23.40.  WOW. Twenty-three dollars is a lot of money to save by just paying attention. For giggles, let’s look at how much going to your neighborhood convenience store with the highest gas price costs you over a year.  You drive that F-150 15,000 miles a year, and your truck gets an average of 22 miles per gallon (you will get 792 miles out of one tank); you will have to fill up 19 times over the course of a year. Fill up 19 times and pay $23.40 more each time. Do you know how much more you will pay in a year for gas, simply because you weren’t paying attention to the nickels and the dimes? $444.60. Almost $500! Can you imagine what you could buy with an extra $500? Or can you imagine having that in a savings account for an emergency? If you worry about the nickels and the dimes, the dollars will take care of themselves! Happy savings.

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Dr. Robin Rogers has been the publisher and owner of Four States Living Magazine, LLC for almost 25 years. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Texas A&M-Texarkana. A past bank board member, Robin likes studying money management and teaching young people about financial literacy. A native of the four states area, Robin enjoys traveling and spending time with her three grown children.