Remember when…

$100 Dollar Bill

Remember when gas stations wouldn’t take $50 or $100 dollar bills because they were so unusual they suspected counterfeits?

Today, you’d better have those big bills, or else you won’t have enough cash to fill your tank. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I paid for gasoline with cash. It’s become one of those things that you only use plastic for.

I saw on the TV news today that some gas stations that have gone to all pre-pay pumps are asking for legislation to make all gas stations adopt a pre-pay policy. The idea is that they feel they are losing some customers who don’t want to use a pre-pay pump to other stations that let them pump first and pay later. They want the law to make it equal for all gas stations.

Is this a good idea? I’m not sure. As I said, I can’t remember the last time I paid for gas with cash, but what if the station had older pumps and you have to pay inside even with a credit card? (I can think of one I go to right near my home that fits that profile.) Pre-paying could be an inconvenience – at least for us honest customers.

Shouldn’t it be one of those things that the marketplace decides for itself? If a station owner wants to take the risk of a few drive-offs for the convenience of their customers, should that be held against him? Is it fair for the other station owners to cry foul and ask for a law to make him do business their way? I don’t think so.

I guess thinking about gasoline and it’s price has become something we all have been doing lately. Odd, for such a thing we used to take for granted. Reminds me of the seventies when it shot up to over a dollar!

Then again the issue of using a credit card or at least debit card for many purchases has become the rule rather than the exception too. That has been sneaking up on us for some time.

We used to be warned against using credit cards unless it was absolutely necessary. People didn’t trust a computer screen to manage their account. They used to like a paper passbook. But the times have changed. I pay about one bill a month by writing a check and mailing it in an envelope. Everything else is paid online. Even phone access to my bank accounts has become a backup to the internet. I rarely go into a bank, except after hours to hit an ATM. Rising postage isn’t a concern to me. Maybe that trend is a reason for postal rates going up in the first place?

I’ve heard some alarming figures about the average amount of credit card debt people carry. Thankfully, I am well below the average and intend to stay there. I have learned to be disciplined about it and keep it in line. I only carry a balance on one account and I could wipe that out at any time if I needed to. That’s apparently the exception to the rule. I used to be more relaxed about it when I was working. I felt as long as I could work some overtime and get any balances back in check, I could live with a lot of debt. I did just that several times, putting on a push to get things under control and out of debt. Now that I’m retired, I don’t dare go there!

Funny how the price of gas gets you thinking about all this?

Posted in Rants

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