I’ve mentioned before that Tony and I use a credit card to purchase all of our gas. We pay the bill off every month before it accrues any interest, and we get 5% cash back on all fuel purchases. Since we’re not paying interest, the 5% cash back is basically free money, and keeping an active credit line is important for building and maintaining a good credit score. It’s win-win.
The credit card is through BP, and we only get 5% cash back on BP purchases, so 99% of the time we buy gas at BP. We only buy at another gas station if the cost per gallon is less than we pay per gallon with the 5% discount. Makes sense, right?
At the beginning of December, we started seeing signs at BP gas stations for a new rewards program. Fill up five times, and you receive a $10 gift card. Since we fill up at BP 99% of the time, it should have been a no brainer for us. Enrolling in their loyalty program would net us up to three $10 gift cards for 15 fill-ups in addition to our 5% cash back.
The only catch? You have to print a receipt and take it inside to the cashier to get credit for filling up.
I’m ashamed to admit that we didn’t start participating in the program until last week. It’s the end of January, and we’ve only gotten credit for two tanks of gas even though we did more driving in the month of December than we’ve ever done in a single month. We probably could have already received the $30 worth of gift cards considering all the gas we used last month with holiday travel throughout the state and the move.
The truth is, I saw the signs every time I filled up, and the only reason I didn’t take advantage of the promotion was laziness. It was cold, I didn’t want to drag the baby into the gas station, I was in a hurry and didn’t want to go inside. It was easier to pay at the pump and get on my way, so that’s what I did. But it cost me. We easily would have filled up 15 times in three months, but we probably won’t fill up enough in the next six weeks to receive all three of the $10 gift cards we could have gotten.
Granted, in the weeks after a newborn arrives, I think it’s easy for even the most frugal person to be lazy about saving money. But it’s unlike me to turn down any offer for free money, and that’s basically what I did by putting off participating in this promotion.
I see this type of thing all the time from less frugal people, too. Sometimes it’s easier to pay twice as much for an item at a gas station when you need it than it is to go to the grocery store where prices are much lower. Millions of people would rather pay higher prices for groceries across the board than clip coupons and hunt for deals. Many people spend hundreds of dollars a month on takeout because it’s easier than cooking every night.
Laziness is a harsh word, and I don’t think it applies in all cases. When time is limited, I think it makes sense to value your time over the money you could save sometimes. But my point is, how often do we choose the easy way when just a little bit of effort could save us a lot of money? If you’re taking the easy way out most of the time, you could be costing yourself a fortune.
It’s a question I’m asking myself a lot lately as we adjust to earning a higher income than we’re used to. I don’t want to be lazy about our finances. When you have a little extra money, it’s tempting to take the easy way out, but I’d rather work a little harder to save even a few dollars if that means building our savings and reaching our goals faster.
So it’s confession time: how often do you let laziness keep you from saving money? Think about it, and consider just how much you could save if you made a little extra effort in those situations the majority of the time. It could mean paying off your debt sooner, building your savings faster, going out to dinner once a month, or even taking a vacation once a year. When you make the extra effort to save most of the time, those dollars and cents add up quickly.