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Fill Up on Financial Wisdom at Gas Stations

Money-saving lessons are available at the pump.

Go to school when you gas up.

Beyond selling you fuel, your local gas station can also teach ways to save money. You just need to pay close attention at the pump.

With average gasoline prices at more than $3 a gallon, most people look at thegas station and wonder how they can save (or

not waste) save a little cash.

Wonder no more. Here are valuable personal financel lessons you can pick up at your local station:

1. Small Amounts Add Up

Small amounts, over time and when pooled together, can add up to a hefty chunk of change.

Have you ever wondered why gas prices are marked in 9/10ths of a cent?That's because that extra 9/10ths of a cent adds over $1 billion ayear into the

pockets of gas station owners.

The same is true (granted, on a small scale) with the loose change you bring homeeveryday. Look at your change at the end of the day as your 9/10ths ofa cent, save it and let it grow. If you save a dollar a day from thetime you're 25 until age 65 in a Roth IRA that earns 8% a year, you'llretire with an extra $94,555 in your account.

2. It's Good to Have Multiple Sources of Income

Gas stations don't make all their money byselling only gas. Many stations also have convenience stores where youcan buy food, drinks and other impulse purchases. Some offer carservices such as changing tires, oil changes and car repair.

What it all says is that instead of relying on a single source of income, they derive income from a number of different sources.

In the same way, you should look at ways to expand the number ofincome sources you have beyond a single job. Starting

a part-timebusiness doing something that you enjoy is a great way to create extra income.

Taking the time to look for additional income opportunities gives youadded security that if one income decreases, you still have anotherthat you can rely upon lessening the impact.

3. Fancy Items Aren't Always Better

It's important to remember that just because something comes with a fanciername and costs more, it doesn't mean it's a better value. Gas stationsshow us this with regular gas and high-octane gas prices.

Except in very specific situations, a higher grade of gas will not make your carrun any better of give you better gas mileage for the higher price, although gas stations sell higher octane gas with the impression thatit is better. While it is true that some higher-performance carengines need a higher octane level, these are the exception ratherthan the rule.

Octane levels tell how much the fuel can be compressedbefore the gas ignites, but it will not improve an ordinary car's gasmileage. Check your driver's manual to find the recommended level ofoctane.

This can be seen in many of the products that one buys.

Brand-name products don't necessarily perform better with their higher price.Take a watch for example. The $20 watch you buy at the local drugstoreand the $10,000 Rolex will do exactly the same thing: tell time.

Whilethe Rolex may have more expensive components than the everyday watch,there is no difference in what the two accomplish.

4. Convenience Comes at a Price

Gas stations that are inconvenient places sell gas for higher prices than those that arelocated in less convenient places. Gas stations that sell gas rightoff the highway are usually more expensive than those that sell gas amile down the road.

This is also true with the items that the gasstation sells. Since you are already there, the prices for food,drinks and other essentials is much more than at your local grocery ordrug store.

You can see this same issue with many of the things you buy.

Prepacked foods can be much more expensive than making food from scratch. Buying dinner at a movie theater rather than going out to eat before seeingthe movie will cost you a lot more. Your local convenience store willhave prices higher than other stores in the area.

This doesn't automatically mean that it's not worth purchasing other stuff at a gasstation. But it does mean that you need to do the calculations to makesure that the added cost is worth the convenience.

5. Cheaper Isn't Always Less Expensive

A big myth about personal finances is that something that is cheaper isalso less expensive.

This can be seen when people drive miles out oftheir way to save a few cents when buying gas. In most cases, the costof driving the extra distance to get the cheaper gas will end upcosting you more in the gas used and wear and tear on the car the getthere than is actually saved.

It's important to look at the true cost and not what you pay for anitem so that you learn to get the best value for your money. A $5shirt that lasts only a couple of months isn't as good a value as ashirt that is $15 and lasts for three years.

Look beyond the price and atthe overall cost of all purchase made to decide whether something is agood value or not.

6. Maintenance Is Your Responsibility

There was a time when you wentto a gas station and you would receive full service where they wouldwash your windows as well as check your oil, fluids and tire airpressure.

If you want full service today, it means that you will haveto pay pay much more per gallon, if you can even find a gas stationthat offers it.

If you don't, the burden to do the basic maintenanceon your car falls upon you and failing to do so can mean paying morefor repairs to the car and having to replace parts sooner.

The same is true with many of the things you own. It is easy to notmaintain such items as furnaces, air conditioners, major appliances,houses, and even your own health because it appears to be lessexpensive in the short run.

The truth, however, is that failing tomaintain items can result in costly repairs down the road. Spending alittle on preventative maintenance will go a long way to saving moneyand making the things that you own last longer.

Jeffrey Strain owns and operates