0951: "Working"

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Technical Ben
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:00 am UTC

I think I only just learnt it lemmings. :(
On car related maintenance. It's "cheap" to fit the parts yourself. But the garage still charges you to adjust everything back to the correct settings. :P
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philip1201
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby philip1201 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:16 am UTC

m9lc wrote:Okay, did Randall seriously write a comic just to point out the ages-old concept that time=money?

I mean, it would be a little different if he pointed it out in some sort of funny or interesting way, but I'm pretty sure that everyone who has ever had to pay for their own gas has thought about this exact issue before. And the alt-text as well.

This is probably one of the worst comics Randy has written in recent memory. It's not funny, original, or interesting in the slightest. I don't even understand what the point of it is. GOOMHR-bait? In that case, it would be on par with "GOOMHR! I totally noticed today that the sky was blue!"


Yes, he did, because people don't act like they know. They're not robots, who hear a life lesson compacted into one sentence and integrate it entirely into their behavioral patterns. It takes repetition and examples to teach people to act or think differently. Any life lesson worth hearing has already been told a trillion times (± a factor of 100) - there's nothing new under the sun (but of course you know that already).

That said, accepting the woman's advice would mean you (1) have an extra minimum-wage job through no effort of your own and (2) are more likely to force the other gas station to compete in price, so it's both a good way to "earn" money in the current economy and a way to enforce the free market an lower your prices in the future.

mpjones
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby mpjones » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:34 am UTC

I'm surprised no one has brought up the effect of taxes. It's true that spending 9 minutes to save a dollar gives you an effective wage of $6.67/hr, less than the US minimum wage of $7.25. However, those are after-tax dollars you're saving. If you're a typical American in the 25% marginal income tax bracket, you'd have to earn $8.89/hr to have the same effective wage.

Consider also the expenses of working which also reduce your effective wage. Gas, wear and tear on your car from commuting, work clothes (I own several more button-down shirts than I would if I were unemployed), daycare if you have young children, and so on. Don't forget the cost of your unreimbursed time either. If you spend 30 minutes commuting each way to an 8-hour job, you effectively earn 11% less per hour.

dtilque
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby dtilque » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:44 am UTC

irishnut wrote:Don't forget about the inevitable wait at the other gas station as there will probably be a ridiculous line if it's 10 cents a gallon cheaper, mostly because people don't understand this.

Drives me up the freaking wall when people don't understand this.


Furthermore, most people sit with their car idling while waiting to get to the pump. Even though they know it'll be several minutes between times they can move forward and it only takes about 10 seconds worth of gas to start the car.
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Nichlemn
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Nichlemn » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:46 am UTC

I used to think like this all the time. But lately, I've realised it's incorrect. First of all, if you are on a salary, it might be hard for you to work overtime. You could get a second job, but there are fixed costs associated with that and it might be unpleasant. Secondly, it focuses on money and not utility. Even if you could work another hour at (say) $50 an hour, the marginal disutility of the (say) 41st hour a week of work may be quite high. Spending a few minutes driving, if not exactly pleasurable may be nonetheless more tolerable than working.

Still, there are some unreasonably cheap people out there. This comic doesn't do a very funny job of making fun of them, though. A better target might be the inconsistently cheap people (who will fret over saving a few cents but hardly care at all about big purchases).

gimmespamnow
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby gimmespamnow » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:47 am UTC

There is a problem with this sort of logic: The marginal value of my free time is actually $0/hr, since I waste quite a bit of it doing things like posting on the internet, (which makes me no money at all.) Even if I was interested in doing something somewhat useful, nobody is going to hire me for 9 minutes on a random Tuesday night, so if I want to save $1 by spending 9 minutes buying cheaper gas, that is better than I'm going to do otherwise with my time...

Lets work it backwards: Say your time is truly worth minimum wage or higher. A week has 168 hours, and a typical person spends 40 of those at work (getting paid minimum wage or higher,) so there are 128 left over. If you make decisions like this for those 128 using minimum wage as your value of time ($7.25/hour,) then you'll spend $928 week, or $48k/year, on "saving time." Keep in mind, you still need some money left over to buy the gas itself, (you spent that $48k/year on the difference in price by buying it from the closer station,) and likewise, all the other things in life that you spend money on, (shelter, food, etc.) Most people in this country make less than $48k/year in the first place, and they certainly don't have $48k left over after they've bought the gas, shelter, food, etc, (even if they had comparison shopped.)

After Katrina I figured out, based on my salary and the differences in travel time between the bus and my car, that gas would have to be $20/gallon before I should take the bus. But I also knew I didn't have $800/month laying around to spend on that gas. That got me thinking: In theory I could work more hours or get another job with my free time or something, but in practice you can't, (both jobs want you to work 9-5ish, or they aren't offering overtime in this economy, or your are salaried so working extra hours doesn't add to your paycheck, or whatever) so I'm actually pretty limited in my ability to convert my free time to income, as are most people. So I now ride the bus... (Actually, I haven't owned a car in 2 years: The marginal cost of operating a car is quite low, but the fixed costs (insurance, car payment) are very high, so when you look at the difference in time/costs between taking the bus to the grocery store, hiring a taxi for a date, etc, etc, the car is a pretty awful deal.)

cuccir
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby cuccir » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:49 am UTC

Someone made a very similar argument to me a few years ago when I chose to take a slower train route that saved me £10 (~$15) but involved hanging round a station for half an hour. His precise response was along the lines of - "yeah, OK, you're valuing your time at £20 an hour, seems reasonable."

To be honest it had never struck me to think of it in that manner, I'm not sure I still do. After all, it's not like I spend all my time attempting to eek out extra productivity. Also, this cartoon (and that statement) presume:

* that you would otherwise be engaged in some sort of economically productive activity
* that there is no extra value to making the journey

I'd argue that the first assumption is flawed - to take my train journey, I'd have only arrived home an hour earlier and sat of my arse in front of the computer/tv.

The second ignores all of the potential psychological/well-being benefits - whether it be the satisfaction of saving the money (clearly valuable to some judging on this thread), or simply leaving the house for twenty minutes when you're bored. These provide gratification, which promote well-being, and thus increase your productivity and capacity when you are working.

To say that if you travel 9 minutes to save a dollar, that you are therefore working for ~$6 an hour, and therefore working for less than minimum wage, might be superficially true but misses the various qualitative benefits that the activity might bring.

zerox
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby zerox » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:01 am UTC

[quote=philip1201]That said, accepting the woman's advice would mean you (1) have an extra minimum-wage job through no effort of your own and (2) are more likely to force the other gas station to compete in price, so it's both a good way to "earn" money in the current economy and a way to enforce the free market an lower your prices in the future.[/quote]

THIS. What are you going to do with the time you save? Just go home and bum about in front of the TV, right?...

[quote=li4alex]Now how much money are we all spending by being on this forum?[/quote]

...or bum about on the forums. I dunno about you, but I'm only spending the marginal cost of my unlimited broadband + electricity. Because I don't have something else I could be doing that would earn me anything. So, unless you have a 24-hour earning potential that requires your constant attention, the dichotomy is between saving money and not saving money. (Of course in this case, the gas used to go to the other station counts, but I'm talking in general terms.) If I was approaching 70 years old then it would be different, as I probably won't live long enough to spend the money that I save, but I'm not 70.

http://www.savingadvice.com/articles/2008/03/19/102067_is-it-worth-my-time-to-pick-up-a-penny.html

[quote=solobutterfly]But it's the principle of the thing!! Or so they shttp://www.savingadvice.com/articles/2008/03/19/102067_is-it-worth-my-time-to-pick-up-a-penny.htmlay. Sadly it took me a long time to realize this, and I do still sometimes justify it by saying "but over the course of the month I've saved about 8 dollars! That's a meal!"[/quote]

So why not skip a meal every month instead of looking for gas stations?

danielearwicker
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby danielearwicker » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:09 am UTC

I just spent a few minutes trying to find a funnier cartoon than this, but it turned out to be a waste of time.

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Uzh
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Uzh » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:18 am UTC

hetas wrote:And for the reference, wolframalpha converted my liters to gallons and euros to dollars and is saying I'm paying 8,37$ for a gallon of gas.


Sounds like you are living in Germany and drive a non-Diesel-machine. Welcome to my world.
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Uzh
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Uzh » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:32 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote:I think I only just learnt it lemmings. :(
On car related maintenance. It's "cheap" to fit the parts yourself. But the garage still charges you to adjust everything back to the correct settings. :P


It reminds me of an old joke about someone who went to a garage because his car broke down.
The mechanic tooke a look at the machine, took his hammer and gave it a little thump and the machine went like new.
After he was charged 10 [enter your favourite currency] the man argued: "You only gave a little thump!"
So he got a bill:
"Given a thump: 1 [enter your favourite currency]
Knew where 9 [enter your favourite currency]"
"The problem is that humans have these darn biological limitations and if it gets too far from 293 K they'll start complaining, or die." http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=106000#p3483385

drazen
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby drazen » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:53 am UTC

I'm half asleep, so some of the notions here don't make sense to me right now. Let's say gas is $3.50/gallon. Let's assume the city/local mileage for two cars, a crappy one at 20mpg and a decent one at 40mpg. So that's 1/20 or 1/40 gpm. So 3.50 x 20 = 17.5 cents per mile and 3.50 / 40 = 8.75 cents per mile. Let's assume a 15 gallon tank and you will have about 1-2 gallons left when you're warned it's time for a fill-up; we'll say 2. Let's stipulate that a gas station "five minutes away" would be at 30mph so that station would be about 2.5 miles away (as it takes 2 minutes to go a mile at that speed). This costs 43.75 cents in the lousy car and 21.88 cents in the efficient one. Assuming a 15 gallon tank, only about 13 of which you'd fill up, "10 cents a gallon cheaper" will save you about $1.30, minus whatever it cost you in gas to get there. I suppose if you include the estimated mileage cost of driving (50 cents a mile) you technically come out behind, but otherwise, you're not losing out. Also since you save around $1 in 5 minutes, that would be $12 in 60 minutes, which is above minimum wage.

Certainly driving 20 miles out of your way to save money makes little sense, but 2 miles? I just time my driving activity so that I am filling up the most at the cheapest stations, since I go the same places and same distances every week and know how much gas I'll be using in between.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby skeptical scientist » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:27 am UTC

Gah! I hate you jsMath! Why are you bugging me with your browser-hijacking math scripts when I'm not even reading the math forums!?

I'm tempted to just turn the damn thing off entirely. There's clearly something wrong with your math processing script when users would rather interpret "\sum_{i=1}^{300} (3+0.01i)/30[/math] = $45.05" without your aid than run the script.
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madjo
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby madjo » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:23 am UTC

Euro 95 petrol costs at gasstations along the Dutch highways somewhere between 1.70 and 1.80 euro per liter.
At gasstations in cities, that price is around 1.65 euro per liter near where I live. (including VAT and any other kind of tax we may have here, including the '25 cents of ex-Primeminister Kok', which was supposed to be a temporary fee, some 10-15 years ago.)

But take a wild stab in the dark, where I stop for gas.

To compare:
1.65 euro per liter = 8.53193962 American dollars per gallon
:)

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tahrey
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby tahrey » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:30 am UTC

What of the money spent vs time using a web / smartphone service that shows you the cheapest prices within a certain radius of a point you choose (home, work, current location), and either a/ the cost of the app, and/or b/ the extra spam you get from providing your email even if the service is "free"?

And what of loyalty points schemes and all that stuff?

I still haven't properly figured this out, given that I am signed up to a service that emails me said details for 3 different points (and/or fuel grades) on a weekly basis, and lets me do a certain number of searches per day on top of that... which generally points towards my nearest supermarket that I normally shop at because of the convenience and reasonable milk/fresh produce prices (maybe a mile & a bit away, with the approach being just-about coastable apart from a couple short uphills and the need to get up to ~30mph in the first place) being the cheapest or second cheapest per-litre (to the tune of between 0.2 and 1.2 pence most of the time... 1.1 to 6.8 cents/USGal), with two different branches of a rival supermarket plus a couple of standalone second-tier-brand filling stations (both of which I can stop at on the way home from work with maybe a half to one mile detour overall) often being very close behind on price, enough that for the cost saving and convenience they definitely get a look in.

The thing is, both of those latter two also offer loyalty cards, with the supermarket one being a fairly widespread, multi-brand scheme. Neither of which I've yet got my head around signing up for. A slightly further flung supermarket is generally 1 or 2p per litre more expensive, but has a well known and moderately generous in-house loyalty card scheme that gives points both in-store and at their filling station... as I used to live a lot closer to it than my current one, I still have the card. The new one offers some kind of credit card (with an exhorbitant interest rate, of course) which supposedly gives a decent per-litre discount off fuel purchases, but I haven't had time to look into this. And of course there's the occasional money-off-fuel-voucher-when-you-buy-certain-things offer wars that they get into, with one very good initial offer that you have to be careful to actually qualify for, then increasingly less worthwhile ones.
And another even further flung supermarket (best part of 7 miles by road, but it appears on my price-watch email radar because it's only about 4 as the crow flies, across a valley occupied by a river, and a motorway, but very few local roads) that's consistently even cheaper than the local one, but usually not enough that it's worth it even hypermiling my car when it's damn near dried out... though they may also have some loyalty/discount scheme I don't know about (yet).

So ... what do I actually do to get the best deal amongst all of them? It's a confusing minefield. And at the end of the day, given the work that would go into working it out, would I actually make a worthwhile saving to offset that lost time, even considering the huge amount I tend to spend on fuel? (Living one side of the city, commuting 20+ miles each way each day in a car that returns about 35mpg UK if it's a good week, at £1.30+ per litre... gradually shifting the commute duties to my 125cc bike that generally offers 90+ mpg, sometimes over 110, and flattens the playing field still further, because since moving house I've found the local traffic to be hideous when school's in session despite being nonexistent when it's out... journey times can double if you're on 4 wheels, and still go up 10-20% on two). The differences may be small, but when it costs this much per volume it's worth shaving it all you can ... more so when you're sucking through half a £70+ tankful per week (or even a whole £15 one!). In context, after all, I have about £1100 net salary a month, which that has to come out of ... and mortgage ... electricity/gas/water ... local services tax ... service charge for my apartment block ... internet/phone service ... cellphone ... home/car/bike insurance ... food(!)... etc. All of them have to be shaved, not just the fuel, to avoid a deficit, and hopefully to provide a little something that can go into savings ... be blown on a night out with friends ... buy christmas presents etc.

All the same, the argument in the comic is one that I've made to people myself before, sometimes til blue in the face, and particularly in the workplace (often losing!). You have to consider the total cost of a strategy, not just the immediate bottom line.

If you work out the total saving over a tankful, and the cost-per-mile, your best bet is to just stick with the nearest supermarket (or nearest to your most regular journey) or other generally lower-cost station, and refill as soon as your reserve light comes on if you're in a city, sooner if going cross-country. And remember if you're somewhere that has notably high prices, you're probably paying for the convenience, or are heading into an area that's a bit sparse for refilling facilities. Check the route, and be prepared to suck it up. And certainly, on heading out of my workplace zone, with a near empty tank and a lack of wasteable time, I've been known to splash a gallon or so into the tank from the otherwise decidedly overpriced stations that are right there at the side of the road on my route to the motorway. OK, so it costs me an extra 10, 25, 60p... whatever. Once in a while, the convenience is worth it. You'd buy a coffee and a snack from there quite happily at 3 or 4 times that price if you knew you might not get a chance to top up the caffiene and hunger tanks any time soon, even if that was objectively a huge waste of cash given that you could make similar at home for 1/10th the price, right? And, on the whole, if it then means I can swing by the supermarket once I'm nearer home, without having conked out on the shoulder and having to reach for the (smelly) spare can or call my breakdown service, I'll save that money back on a full tank there and in the time/hassle/potential extra costs stakes, vs having just stopped in to fill the tank at some random other place along the way.

Certainly wouldn't fill the car there - though I have half filled it the once on getting a call that my dad had been rushed to a hospital the better part of 100 miles away, dashing out, and seeing the light click on just as I left the site. Again, convenience is one of the main things we go to work to earn money to pay for... that of being able to buy a house with a heating and lighting system rather than having to hack one together from tree branches and make a fire, for example, or to have a vehicle that saves time on journeys... always bear that part in mind. I can still be a massive scrooge at times, particularly when food shopping (clearance shelf at 10.01pm FTW... who wants spinach and ricotta pasta tomorrow? There's a sealed tub of the cheese here for 5p, and bags of spinach are on offer! If we put the tub at the back of the fridge it'll still easily be fresh enough to use in 20 hours' time), so long as that then doesn't cause its own knock-on costs (well, I COULD get that super cheap X there... but I'd need a Y, a Z, a couple of As and a brace of Bs and Cs, none of which I have in or can use for anything else afterwards...). I figure it as a way of saving more money for the fun, enjoyable, and labour saving things down the line, so I don't have to go without at a critical point.

You can see it at work in other areas as well. If you're buying a laptop, buy a half decent one with a reasonable spec, and quite a bit of upgrade headroom. It doesn't cost that much more than a cheap crappy one (probably half the price is components that don't really cost any more or less regardless of the headline specification) and will last so much longer. The one I bought for about £750 in 2006 is still ticking (I think I *might* replace it next year... MIGHT... or instead ask for a new battery for it as a christmas gift so I can more easily carry it about the apartment?), after having the RAM and disk inexpensively maxed (a four-fold increase both) a couple years back. A strong CPU/chipset and the expandability were key; I did goof on not ensuring it had SATA and Expresscard rather than IDE and Cardbus (otherwise it'd have 2+ years of life left, with a faster CPU off ebay to round it out), but you can't predict everything, and it's rarely challenged by anything WinXP, the web browser, or the handful of increasingly old programs I habitually use can throw at it. The phrase "it just works" is very much applicable. Same as the at-one-point excessively equipped P133 that my stepbrother bought for high-end graphics and webdesign in the late 90s... and was still in effective daily use by my dad more than 10 years later, with no more tweaks than using a flashblocker in the webbrowser, until another starship enterprise-a-like hand me down came his way. (His only complaint was that Frontpage made it crawl... ironic, really!) ... it was maybe £2000? So, £200 a year. How long might a £600 machine of the same vintage have struggled on for, without mods, and being terrible from the word go?

In the meantime, I know enough people who have worked their way through at least 3 £350 budget laptops, and they've hated each and every one within 3 months of having bought it... At least one of the machines has basically committed suicide from having an overworked bargain bucket CPU with inadequate cooling. And hardly anyone who bought into the Netbook fad is still running one, apart from my brother (who has put a custom Linux on, added a 3G USB dongle, and uses it basically as a cheap, expendible iPad-with-a-keyboard to access live-updated websites relevant to his work whilst out and about). False economies :)

Cars, however, it rarely holds true. I've just had £250 of work done on something I bought for £1000 (ten times that is what a "reasonable" brand-new one costs)... aside from oil changes, govt tests, tax, insurance etc, it's cost me only slightly more than that in upkeep per year on average. But even if it was £500 a year, I'd have to keep it for 20 until it cost more overall than that brand-new one. Or heck, I could just buy a £500 car with some life left in it at the start of the year, run it until it breaks, and scrap it, earning a small amount back on the transaction. Right now it's just about worth having occasional repairs done (this time, alternator, split water hose, previously-held-on-with-duct-tape accelerator cable; previously a gearbox/clutch, engine mounts, and bitten-to-the-quick brakes) because the money and time taken for that is slightly less than the alternative, and it doesn't mean I have to fuss about with registration documents, going to view the various choices, updating my insurance policy, etc. After the work, it's now as quiet as any modern car I've sat in, gets 10% better economy (as in, 44 rather than 40mpg UK at a steady 75mph on the clock (closer to 70 on the ground)... that alt must have been RUINED) which is still pretty good going even for a brand new 1600cc gasoline-fuelled car let alone a wreck, and the pedal action is smoooooth. Now I just gotta save towards the inevitable shock absorber replacements, they're getting pretty noisy.

Or... I could buy one at £10000 with an intent to keeping it 20 years ... but by the time it was half that age (this one is just turning 11) it would be in the same condition anyhow. And I'd probably have to buy it on finance, at OMGWTF percent interest.

(For the interest, I try to do my own servicing where I can, because I have reasonable mechanical competence and I quite enjoy it as a hobby so the lost time isn't so much of an issue... but lately all I've been able to really deal with is basic servicing - oil, filters, etc. This particular car is a right pain to deal with, so much so that the mechanic I use occasionally has problems with parts or fitting, ergo I'll likely have a terrible time trying to do serious work myself with home-tinkerer level tools; don't have a workshop or anything, just an 8x20x8ft garage without power or running water, and I have a busy work life on top of having just moved house, and the motorbike seems to go wrong in sympathy with the car, rather than out-of-phase with it. I NEED transport to get to work (riding the bus would take 1 1/2 hours each way...), so, the overall convenience and security is well worth paying what is, overall, a fairly modest labour charge. It is at least a minor, independent "motor engineers" that relies on local people coming back, rather than a big chain with an advertising budget, so the prices, service, and standard of work are all good, rather than it being a corporation that says "pick one of the above".
Also, I am so getting a slightly smaller, German, quasi British, or Italian made, diesel engined model as my next car - should I find one within 100 miles of me that fits my budget. The biggest saving you can possibly make on fuel right now is by switching to the heavy stuff and to a more lightweight, aerodynamic vehicle (oh, and driving more slowly... not more gently, more SLOWLY... prob is the peak economy tends to come somewhere between 20 and 40mph (no higher than that) depending on your vehicle and engine, and people don't tend to take kindly to being held up at 30ish on the open road... plus you waste SO much time... you have to work it out vs minimum wage, again, in fact) - in 10 years time, I'll almost certainly be in a slightly worn out Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi or similar (88mpg mofos! But as good a level of performance, size and comfort as my immediatley previous ride to this one, which was once persuaded to go as high as 43mpg...). Besides, that brings further savings on tax and tyres, and I need something that better fits my garage as I'm highly tempted to take up a neighbour's offer of renting theirs for £25 a month to alleviate my squeeze-it-all-in vehicle storage problem. Diesel is a practical choice these days, the engine designers are really getting to know their stuff; a couple years ago, borrowing one with an older generation turbodiesel in after my own was written off, I swore the things off for a while and so bought a petrol one. Recently I hired a van - a van of all things! - and its (car sized!) TDi was fantastic... pulled like a train after a split-second lag, and even still had some semblance of power when miles off the turbo band, but still managed something like 40mpg for the duration of the hire. The state of the art is advancing at an alarming pace. It's definitely on the list, now.)

esc27
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby esc27 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:44 am UTC

If everyone would drive just a few miles out of their way to save a little on fuel, the more expensive places would be forced to lower prices to compete (possibly lower than before if it turns into a small price war) and we could save both time and money. That aside it isn't hard to combine gas trips with other trips and just buy the cheapest gas on the route thus costing no time and saving money.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby radtea » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:51 am UTC

On the flip-side, if you see a penny in the street and pick it up, and it takes a second, that's an untaxed $36/hour you're getting. Hard to find steady work, though...
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flippin_crzy
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby flippin_crzy » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:21 pm UTC

Sometimes the benefit in paying more your for petrol is the friendship that develops over the years with the guy your age to the point where he asks you out. As of last Sunday.

Dawwwwwww :) :) :)

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby BrianB » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:39 pm UTC

MathUhhhSaurus wrote:lalalala...I'm not listening!

There's a gas station literally across the street from my neighborhood, but I will drive 5 or so miles down the road to get gas because it's cheaper. And, quite frankly, it's a much nicer looking gas station AND the one across the street is a BP (and we all know what happened there http://xkcd.com/748/).


You do realize how ridiculous this is right?

..."much nicer looking"... so what?

..."BP"... ok let me fill you in on a little secret here....
1. The station is most likely owned by a local businessman, not BP
2. All refineries put gasoline on the pipeline
3. Distribution centers (DCs) pull gas off the pipeline
4. At that point gas is gas, and you don't know who actually made it
5. Any special formulations are done either in brand-specific holding tanks at the DC, or at the station in some instances

In short, you're still getting BP-refined gasoline as much as any other brand and you're only hurting the local businessman.

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mojacardave
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby mojacardave » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:42 pm UTC

Nichlemn wrote:Still, there are some unreasonably cheap people out there. This comic doesn't do a very funny job of making fun of them, though. A better target might be the inconsistently cheap people (who will fret over saving a few cents but hardly care at all about big purchases).


Such as this comic:

http://theoatmeal.com/blog/apps

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jonadab
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby jonadab » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:47 pm UTC

Also, I have been calculating the cost of things using minimum wage as a guide for a long time now. I think it's an excellent way to organise one's thoughts on the cost of time.


My financial spreadsheet (basically, a glorified checkbook ledger that I keep in OO.o calc) has a formula in a column off to the right out of the way that automatically calculates my average take-home pay (after taxes and retirement contributions and whatnot). I round that to the nearest dollar and use that figure. I use this for example when deciding whether to bother repairing a damaged item: if I know it'll take me thirty minutes to fix the item, then it has to be something I'd spend half that number on (in the condition it'll be in when fixed, if I bought it used); otherwise it's not worth my time to fix it. So, for example, it's worth repairing a pair of pants that's in good condition by sewing on a button, but if the pants are old and the repairs required are more extensive (e.g., they need a patch) then it's often not worth repairing them.

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FrobozzWizard
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby FrobozzWizard » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:53 pm UTC

jpk wrote:My favorite is when I'm in someone's car and they spend half an hour driving around and around looking for a place to park to save ten minutes walking.


In the words of Leonard Nimoy:

Take the case of your automobiles
Greatest invention since man discovered wheels
Hydromatic overdrive four-on-the-floor
Pushbutton windows pushbutton doors
Double barreled carborators rush you any place
But you never can find a parking space
Highly ... illogical

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Faux » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:06 pm UTC

BrianB wrote:..."BP"... ok let me fill you in on a little secret here....
1. The station is most likely owned by a local businessman, not BP
2. All refineries put gasoline on the pipeline
3. Distribution centers (DCs) pull gas off the pipeline
4. At that point gas is gas, and you don't know who actually made it
5. Any special formulations are done either in brand-specific holding tanks at the DC, or at the station in some instances

In short, you're still getting BP-refined gasoline as much as any other brand and you're only hurting the local businessman.


I've seen this argument pop up numerous times in different places, but it's just as wrong each time.

Yes, gas is co-mingled in the lines. Yes, the additives that make [brand] gas are added near the endpoints, if not at.
But if less BP gas is sold at BP stations, then less gas is bought from BP supply trucks, and therefore less BP gas that is put into the pipeline in the first place.

Or alternatively, they sell the gas they put in at lower rates to other companies because they don't use it in their own supply chain.

Either way, it costs them margin. Of course, boycott hurts the local business more than the company, but franchising was never more than an elaborate buffer for the core business anyways - the franchises always fall first.

Side effect of that, if the BP brand becomes toxic and hurts stations directly, station owners will rebrand as their (usually ten year) franchise contracts come up. I can think of at least two stations in my area that changed from BP (to Hess for one and Exxon for the other) over the last couple years. Can't rule out other reasons/coincidence, but there are less BP stations here now either way.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby MrRubix » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:30 pm UTC

You'd be surprised how many people are willing to take on disproportionate effort/gain ratios for the sake of pinching pennies.

But a lot of it comes down to certainty and implied efforts.

I *know* that if I drive X miles out of the way, I will save Y amount of money, and that certainty has a particular utility to it. Nevermind the fact I could save $200/month by moving to a cheaper place, or earn $5k more per year by putting effort into finding a new job, or save $150/month by cooking more and eating less crap at restaurants, or earn $50/hr extra money by setting up a tutoring gig after work -- these all have uncertainties and psychologically unfavorable implications despite their hugely favorable effort/gain ratios. Moving requires a lot of effort if I am moving everything myself (even if it only takes a day or two), but if I am paying for movers, that's extra money up front, which feels unfavorable even if I am saving money over the course of a year through lower rent. I could put effort into finding a new job, but I may not get pass the interviews. I could put effort into cooking more, but man, cooking's tough! I could set up a tutoring gig, but what if I don't get any takers? Besides, isn't one full-time job enough? What about free time?

At the end of the day, we operate on heuristics. People aren't comfortable with risk because we're far more sensitive to loss -- we are risk-averse. Gaining $100 feels nice, but losing $100 feels absolutely horrible. We stick with the status quo and try to figure out easy ways to save from that baseline. We don't often consider moving to new baselines altogether because of the risk and perceived efforts (fewer large efforts feel worse than many small ones). Sometimes options are closed off to us altogether due to lack of education/know-how.

Of course, some people are just batshit insane and don't think at all. If you're the kind of person who will spend ten minutes to save a dollar buying gas, don't expect sympathy when you turn around and blow $800 on an electronic gadget you never use, or waste $40/month on TV stations you never watch, etc.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Apeiron » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:43 pm UTC

jpk wrote:And if you drive to the gym, you're paying money to drive to a place where you pay money to ride on a pretend bicycle.


Where i won't fall off the bike or be hit by a car or have inhale fumes from cars and can go for a swim right after in the middle winter.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Jackpot777 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:45 pm UTC

Just about everyone is calculating what their time is worth based on money (either through minimum wage, or the amount they save per hour, or based on their wages). I think a little beyond just the monetary cost.

Example: my in-laws shop at a Wal-Mart and they occasionally say I should shop there for cost and choice, which is half an hour's drive from my house. I shop in a local supermarket which is three minutes from my house. Both are open 24 hours. The Wal-Mart is reached via a left turn, so there's always a line of traffic waiting at the light (the local place: also a left turn to get in there, but not much traffic delaying a turn on most occasions). The bigger place then involves finding parking (the smaller place: I'm always less than two rows of traffic and less than five car widths from the doors). And then I'd be walking around a cathedral-sized building where most of the extra choice would just be a 300 boxes of Shredded Wheat (instead of ten boxes where I shop now).

Any monetary savings that I may glean from shopping at the Wal-Mart would be eradicated if I consider additional food costs and the cost of my personal time, true. But there's something more important to me ...the piece of mind in not spending two hours extra of my life in driving time / driving in rain or snow / waiting in a line of traffic / jostling for a good spot to park if the weather's bad / wandering inefficiently in my hunting and collecting / waiting in a line for checkout when there's a place I know that is quieter and gets me checked out faster.

Increasing the number of those moments in life where I can just breathe deeply and be Zen about things, instead of worrying that I'm paying 5¢ extra for a box of cereal that'll last me two weeks, that's what makes taking the path of least resistance worth it. As Han Solo said during a moment of stress, "no reward is worth this."

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby philsov » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:54 pm UTC

There are these things called a "salary" and "working hours" wherein any time spent outside of those times is effectively worth nothing, as there is no alternative to the income. It's not like I can choose between hourly labor and driving my car 4 extra minutes for cheaper gas.

But I also drive the tollway to my salary job, because being able to sleep in for 15 minutes is worth the $1.20 because my time is far more precious in the morning than in the evenings when I drive around all willy nilly to recoup that money.
The time and seasons go on, but all the rhymes and reasons are wrong
I know I'll discover after its all said and done I should've been a nun.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Zendax » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:55 pm UTC

Okay, did Randall seriously write a comic just to point out the ages-old concept that time=money?


While people know that time = money, many if not most people get a bit crazy when it comes to gas prices, hence the specific example.

Most people WILL go out of their way to save 5 cents or more a gallon. I know for my car that's just 50 cents a tank, so I don't bother. I'll save maybe two whole dollars over the course of a month.

Of course, it would help me get that pesky kid off my back
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP9gSfXgir0

MrRubix
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby MrRubix » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:00 pm UTC

philsov wrote:There are these things called a "salary" and "working hours" wherein any time spent outside of those times is effectively worth nothing, as there is no alternative to the income. It's not like I can choose between hourly labor and driving my car 4 extra minutes for cheaper gas.

But I also drive the tollway to my salary job, because being able to sleep in for 15 minutes is worth the $1.20 because my time is far more precious in the morning than in the evenings when I drive around all willy nilly to recoup that money.


This is an important point a lot of people don't consider. Unless you're working 24/7, the whole "this isn't worth my time" argument simply doesn't hold. Of course, any time you're not working, you're forgoing opportunity gains, but what matters is utility. I may be happier working 45 hours/week than I would be at 70 even if I earned more money from it (but had less time to spend it and enjoy leisure in my youth).

It's all about maximizing utility, in the end. Money alone is an insufficient metric.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Mads » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:06 pm UTC

keiranhalcyon31 wrote:
TheRedSeven wrote:This actually reminded me of a thought puzzle I was contemplating while on a road trip over Labor Day:

Say you're on a Road Trip. You are 300 miles from home. The gas station on the corner is selling gas at $3.00/gallon. Every mile, there is another gas station, each selling gas for an additional $0.01/gallon. So after driving 1 mile, the gas station there is selling for $3.01, and the gas station next door to your house sells gas for $6.00/gallon.

You start your journey with a full tank of gas (for ease-of-math sake, 10 gallon tank). You get 30 miles/gallon, so you can make the entire trip (ending on fumes) on a single tank. However, you want to be sure that you have a full tank of gas when you leave for work in the morning, so you must refill it at the station next to your house.

What's the cheapest way to end up at home with a full tank of gas? Where should you fill up, and how often?

Does the answer change if you start with an empty tank of gas and have to decide how much to put in the tank to begin with?



10 gallons * $6.00/gallon = $60.00.

The cost of topping off at each station is [math]\sum_{i=1}^{300} (3+0.01i)/30[/math] = $45.05. (The "/30" is for 1 thirtieth of a gallon per top-off.)

Running it for topping off every other station yields [math]\sum_{i=1}^{150} (3+0.02i)/15[/math] = $45.10, so I'm pretty sure topping off every mile is the optimal solution to the problem as stated - ignoring the effect of stopping on fuel economy, aggravation, etc.


Easy enough math, but stopping for gas at every mile marker will take you 20 hours to get home... You won't be going to work in the morning, let alone with a full tank of gas.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby crystalmeph » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:19 pm UTC

li4alex wrote:The gym is never cost-efficient compared to home exercise. The only thing a gym might have over home workouts is atmosphere.
Now how much money are we all spending by being on this forum?


Not if the gym has a pool for lap swimming. I wouldn't wager that owning your own pool that's at least 25 yards (or meters) in one dimension would be cost effective over the length of time the average person lives in a house. I suppose you could just buy one of those Endless Pools (if you're not claustrophobic), but the gym pool still has something that doesn't - lifeguards.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby dp2 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:24 pm UTC

Amidee wrote:The funniest fact is that some of you make all the calc with gallons, but when it comes to measuring the tank capacity, they go with litres. MADNESS!!!

It doesn't matter what the tank is measured in. It's sold in gallons.

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Adam H
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Adam H » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:30 pm UTC

philsov wrote:There are these things called a "salary" and "working hours" wherein any time spent outside of those times is effectively worth nothing, as there is no alternative to the income. It's not like I can choose between hourly labor and driving my car 4 extra minutes for cheaper gas.
Can you not get a night job? I assume the reason you haven't is because you value your free time more than whatever wage you would get from having a second job.
-Adam

dp2
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby dp2 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:31 pm UTC

Apeiron wrote:
jpk wrote:And if you drive to the gym, you're paying money to drive to a place where you pay money to ride on a pretend bicycle.


Where i won't fall off the bike or be hit by a car or have inhale fumes from cars and can go for a swim right after in the middle winter.

Or play racquetball or basketball or climb the rock wall or use the track in the winter.

But it is amusing that even at a gym, the parking spaces closest to the building fill up first. In college, we had a rec center less than 100 yards from the dorm doors, and people complained about the distance they had to walk to work out. The same people who walked miles a day between classes.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Anonymously Famous » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:46 pm UTC

zerox wrote:
li4alex wrote:Now how much money are we all spending by being on this forum?


...or bum about on the forums. I dunno about you, but I'm only spending the marginal cost of my unlimited broadband + electricity.

There's also the depreciation of your computer and associated equipment.

The two places that tend to have the cheapest gas in my area happen to both be on or near normal routes of travel. I also often bike to work. It takes longer, but doesn't use gas and gives me added exercise.

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby icebrain » Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:46 pm UTC

I agree with some of the posters here: time is money, but how much varies depending on the person and on the time of day. For the average person, spending ten minutes to save a few bucks is reasonable.

The point about wasting gas to get it cheaper is true, though. But I think most people realize that, the problem is that instead of doing the math, they make the decision based on what they 'feel', and often they're wrong.

Adam H wrote:
philsov wrote:There are these things called a "salary" and "working hours" wherein any time spent outside of those times is effectively worth nothing, as there is no alternative to the income. It's not like I can choose between hourly labor and driving my car 4 extra minutes for cheaper gas.
Can you not get a night job? I assume the reason you haven't is because you value your free time more than whatever wage you would get from having a second job.


How many people would not be unemployed right now if no one had a second job? Think about it.

skeptical scientist wrote:Gah! I hate you jsMath! Why are you bugging me with your browser-hijacking math scripts when I'm not even reading the math forums!?

I'm tempted to just turn the damn thing off entirely. There's clearly something wrong with your math processing script when users would rather interpret "\sum_{i=1}^{300} (3+0.01i)/30[/math] = $45.05" without your aid than run the script.


I've noscript'ed the forum, since that script was blocking everything else. It's odd, though, since the Math SE site works fine. I wonder if they use a different script?

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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby kmm » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:07 pm UTC

This comic is spot on. If you're not from the US, then you might not get it (or maybe you will?).

As most of us have pointed out, optimizing your fuel costs by picking the right gas stations is a complex task that only the most brilliant minds will be successful at in the long run. In order to do this correctly, you need to perform some mix of the following:

- Plan your routes carefully
- Know your vehicles fuel economy
- Be aware of gas prices within a certain circumference
- Shutting off your car when idling at the pump, etc.

The problem with this type of optimization, is that the gains end up being very low (somewhere in the order a dollar or two per fillup), and if you make more than a few mistakes in executing the above perfectly (missing a gas station with lower prices, miscalculating your mileage), then in all likelihood, you are completely negating all your hard work. So you end up with all that frustration, but still spending almost exactly the same as the "idiot" who just fills up at the first station they see and never think twice.

People "comparison shop" gas prices because it seems easy and they can compare the numbers and brag to their friends (even if they are 100% wrong and save close to $0/yr in the long run). It's a delusion that many US citizens (not all) indulge in because then they can say "we're doing our part", but then rest on their laurels and be stubborn when geeks like us say "hey, you know you could save $30 on that $45 dollar HDMI cable you're buying if you order it on the Internet", or, "you know that if you go to truecar you could find a dealer selling that car for $2000 less". It's the common mentality, "thinking is hard! I want it now! I don't want to learn!" That's why the comic is spot on.

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Diadem
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby Diadem » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:13 pm UTC

Ok so it's 10 centers per gallon cheaper 5 minutes away. 5 minutes by car probably tranlates to about 1km in a city, which is done at quite low fuel efficiency because of all the traffic lights. Let's say 1:10. So we spend 0.1 liters going there and another 0.1 liters going back. That's 0.05 gallons. Gas seems to cost about 4 dollars a gallon. So the trips costs us 20 cents. We save 10 cents a gallon. An average tank is what, 60 liters, that's 25 gallons. Assuming it's mostly empty we put in 20 gallons, so we save €1.80. For 10 minutes of work. That's €10.80 per hour.

Not a very good wage, but certainly above minimum wage. And it's tax free, extra money above your normal income. So that's actually pretty good. Well worth it.
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby derjsot » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:16 pm UTC

I'd just like to point out that you Europeans are pretty much screwed. Here in Texas, we pay $3.449/g; which Wolfram and Google both tell me is .6599 Euros/liter.

With the car I drive, I get 570 miles to a single 10 gallon tank, (not counting the two gallon reserve!) So I think I'm pretty much justified driving wherever I like to save a couple of pennies, when all I spend is thirty bucks every two weeks or so.

:mrgreen:

Y'all can go ahead and tear my argument to shreds now :?

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philsov
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Re: 0951: "Working"

Postby philsov » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:19 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:Can you not get a night job? I assume the reason you haven't is because you value your free time more than whatever wage you would get from having a second job.


Mostly, yes. But that's not my point.

Even if I wanted to moonlight as a gas station attendant from, say, 7 pm to 2 am, if I go to fill up my car with gas at 4am, there is no way that I can lose money by driving for a 10 minute longer trip. So what if it's less than minimum wage? There is no money to gained by the alternative.

The only way that this is not "worth my time" in a monetary sense is if I lose work as a result of it -- like it'll make me late for my job in which I get paid hourly, can't work overtime, and make more than minumum wage.

This comic is just wrong.

</wetblanket>
The time and seasons go on, but all the rhymes and reasons are wrong
I know I'll discover after its all said and done I should've been a nun.


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