Bargain hunters beware! Running across town to save a few cents is probably costing you more money that you’re saving. This is a classic trap that bargain hunters run into: wasting money when they think they are saving money.
The problem is that the bargain hunter only factors in the price of the item (product x is $10.00 at store A, $12.00 at store B) without taking into consideration the cost of traveling to the store. The automatic assumption is that you save $2 by shopping at store A instead of store B, but what if store A is 7 miles further away from you home than store B?
According to AAA the cost of gasoline alone is now approximately 10 cents per mile for a 2005 Dodge Caravan and has a total operating cost of 16.2 cents per mile (this includes maintenance and tires).
That means a trip to store A would cost you $2.27 in gas and maintenance for the extra 14 mile round trip meaning that the bargain hunter actually lost money getting the “bargain.”
A good way to get your bargain without the cost of extra driving is to find the closest store that will match competing offers. In addition to getting the best price on goods, it will also save you a lot of time running around to all the different stores.