That New Math

Someone recently said that driving to Virginia from Greensboro for cheaper gas was nuts, as you spend more in gas to get there than you save in the price difference.

Well, let's find out.

It's 36 miles from my house to the Exxon in Ridgeway, VA. My car can do better than 16mpg on the highway, but let's call it 16. With Plus gas in my neighborhood around $2.24/gallon, that means I spend approximately $10.08 in gas for a round trip to Virginia. So I'm $10.08 in the hole.

Filling up there at $1.99/gallon, I save $4.25 over Greensboro gas prices (for 17 gallons.) Now I'm only $5.83 in the hole.

Then, I turn in a scratch-off lottery ticket I've been carrying around in my wallet forever. Cha-ching! Another $1 -- only $4.83 in the hole.

I take that found money and another $3 to the scratch-off vending machine and buy two tickets. First one: nothing. Two: a winner! I get my $4 back.

Well let's face it, that $4 was long ago written out of my budget. Two more scratchies for Chewie. First one: nothing. Second one: $6! A 50% profit in less than 5 minutes. Status: $2.83 in the hole.

I don't know if you've heard, but the President is urging us to take control of investing our money. I oblige and buy two more MegaMillions QuickPicks with my winnings. Yes, I already bought five. OK, and five LottoSouth too -- but I used birthdays for those. Hey, quit looking at my Quicken. This is the part of the budget pie chart we call "Fun, dammit."

So for an investment of $10.08 in gas to Virginia, I saved $4.25, gained $1 from an old lottery ticket, and made $2 profit in scratch-offs. I spent $2.83 for the joyride.

I think the $34 mil from MegaMillions, or even the $2 mil from LottoSouth, should take care of that quite neatly.

Plus, it's a pretty drive.

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