Saving Money vs. Privacy

So I’m a cheap-o at heart. People that know me will laugh and say “yeah right!“. While it’s true I loveee nice things, especially electronics, to overpay by even $1 on certain things is like the death of my unborn 1/2 step son. I vividly remember the exact moment I realized I was cheap. I was with my girlfriend. I was low on gas and had to get home. We were like 30 miles out of town and super low on gas. While I’m willing to risk it a little I knew we weren’t gonna make it. I was forced to stop at the next gas station. Problem is… supply and demand. We were in the middle of freaking nowhere. There was one gas station then none until we got much closer to home. They could theoretically have charged 6.99/Liter in Euros… and I’d unfortunately had to pay it. Where I lived gas was cheap, like $2.29/gallon. This place decided the a good number that day was like $2.69. I wasn’t having it. At first I was like “well it’s only 0.40 cents a gallon“. Then I was like “yeah but you’ll need 15 of them and that’s $6! That’s a hard earned meal this dude’s stealing outta your pocket! You know how many UTI’s you had to treat just to lose it to this dude. Hecks to the no“. So what did I do? I put in the credit card, put literally one gallon into my car, then got back in, drove home and filled up the rest once I got home. I didn’t think anything of it. I was putting it to the man. I wasn’t giving the greedy gas man nada. He was only going to get 0.40 cents outta me and that’s final. To my surprise, not everyone is like me. When I got back into my car my girlfriend was perplexed and very concerned. She was like “What happened? Was something wrong with the pump? Is the car okay?“. After explaining myself very seriously to her she busted out laughing and proudly stated “damnnnn. you’re cheap!“.

Until that moment I never thought of it like that. I assumed everyone held my perspective. To her (and now I assume most people) she would rather just fill up once, not have to take the time to pull over again to go through the whole filling up process a whole second time, and take the “L” and lose the $6. Granted I even made more money than her as a resident, but to her, it was the inconvenience that just wasn’t worth it. It me it was simply the principle: you don’t take advantage of someone just because you’re able to. A fine example of this is that I always hunt for the cheapest gas. To me gas is gas. My dad (an aerospace engineer) and some of my high school friends say otherwise. They say “cheap gas has additives that can over time cause buildup and damage your engine that in the long run just isn’t worth it blah blah blah“. Thanks Araz. I hear you loud and clear. Buttt to me, who’s driven for 17+ years, has yet to see a single problem derived from my cheaper than your, gas.

I’ve always used one simple app: GasBuddy. I’ve used it on both the iPhone and Android. It works great. People report the price of gas they see at a gas stations (there’s some incentive I’m sure) and it uses your geolocation to find the cheapest price near you! You can put filters like the type of gas (unleaded, premium), if you have memberships (Costco, etc), but I just click “find” and I go. If you’re in a busy city it’s better since there are more users who update the prices and it’s more reliable. But RECENTLY… I found another way to consistently save a few bucks. But for the first time ever, in the history of my long drawn-out existence, I’ve hesitated on saving money.

What I noticed was at gas stations they always want you to signup for their credit cards. F-that. I have not and will not ever sign up for one of those. No to Southwest and their 42-billion miles at won’t get you to your mailbox, no to Home Depot when you buy a fridge or their thick construction pencil, no to Kohls, no to Exxon. Just no. However… I noticed below the ad that if you use their phone app you can save ~5 cents/gallon. You’ve got my attention! So I’ve been using them for the last several weeks… and I’m torn. It’s simply privacy vs. savings. Are you willing to give it up?

It works very simply: You pull up to say Shell (every major gas station has an app. BP, Exxon, Shell, Philips 66, etc). You load the app, it’s knows the station you’re at by geolocation, asks the stall #, you authorize your digital payment and that’s it. It takes ~10 seconds in an A/C controlled vehicle, then get out, click unleaded at the pump, insert, pump and drive away. I don’t pull my wallet out, I get points towards gas/snacks at that station, it’s silky smooth. The only downside is you’re being tracked by another entity and I don’t like that.

Is this the first app to track me. Nope. Is this the most invasive way I’m being tracked… Not even close. What get’s me is simply how much “the man” knows about you. He knows where you fill up, how much, where you’re going, your habits, etc. While it’s not insane it just adds up. This app knows this, that app knows that, you grant permission here, you give access there. It just brought to my attention how much I don’t like unwanted people in my private life knowing things they shouldn’t. I recently started using a VPN. While it’s nowhere near perfect and sometimes downright a pain in the hindquarters (slow, blocks content I want, glitchy, etc.) it’s allowing me to trade some level of privacy for a nominal fee. Sometimes things in life make you open you’re eyes a little. Sometimes its good and allows insight and a healthy perspective. Sometimes it’s bad and allows paranoia and doubt to creep in. I’m currently caught between the two.

That’s all for now! Thought I’d share a little info if y’all didn’t know already about the gas savings options and personal thoughts. Always, have a great day and keep it going team! It’s a beautiful summer and don’t miss going outside every now and then. The sun won’t bite. I promise.

-Z

Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2, 3, 4.

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