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Wednesday, 23 January 2013 16:36

The risks of a cashless society

Credit and debit cards are used pretty much all the time. We use them for everything from buying groceries, clothes, take-out food and gas to even paying household bills. Online shopping has also grown over the years, where people come home from work, grab a bite to eat, fire up the computer and shop away only to pull out the plastic and consummate the purchase.

But such usage carries risks. A few years ago my father received a call from his credit card company that someone was trying to use his credit card number online to purchase a $3,000 TV. They called him because it was not a normal spending habit, which threw up a red flag for his credit card company. He found out that an employee at a restaurant they frequented had stolen his credit card number, expiration date and security code from the back of the card. Score one for the wherewithal of the credit card issuer in alerting my father. However, many other cardholders are not so lucky.

Published in The Frugal Edge
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:25

A pain in the (g)as pump

As gas prices rise, so does my anxiety. We are planning a trip to New Jersey this summer to visit family and based on current prices, it seems the most expensive part will be the fuel to get there. While there is speculation that gas prices will rise to $5 a gallon by summer, I'm not totally convinced since the same claim has been made albeit unsuccessfully for the past three years.

However, I could just be in denial.

But what has caused gas prices to skyrocket? One consumer myth is that gas station owners and operators are making a killing at the pumps. In reality, most operators make their profit from selling snacks, sandwiches and soft drinks inside the store rather than from fuel sales. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), a trade group representing gas station and convenience store owners, the markup on motor fuel sales averaged 18.5 cents per gallon in 2011. However, profit margins in 2011 typically were 3-5 cents per gallon, which sets the average breakeven on fuel sales after expenses at around 14 cents above the wholesale cost.

Published in The Frugal Edge

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