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Let's Pinch Those Pennies
August 25, 2008

I happened to have a conversation with a gas station owner over the weekend. I had pulled off the highway to fill up.

Immediately ahead of me was a fellow who apparently was complaining that the cost of a pack of cigarettes at the station was 10 cents too high. The owner of the station was still shaking his head when I stepped up to pay for my gas.

We had a conversation about what just happened. The owner said that in the past two years people have become more conscious of prices than he had ever seen in his 11 years in business. The cigarette episode was just the latest example.

He said he was conducting a pricing experiment. He had set his price six cents a gallon below the station up the street. He said his volume was up by 50 percent as a result. He interpreted this as yet another example of price consciousness.

The owner said even his friends stopped coming by if his price was just two cents higher than the other station.

I mostly listened, but I agreed that money was tight and people were watching their expenditures.

As I drove away, I thought about the conversation, but what I mostly thought about was that price consciousness is nothing new to coin collectors. They have been following prices closely for their whole hobby careers. If something seems out of line, they say so online and in letters. Does this habit carry over into their daily budgets? I assume so.

If you watch your numismatic expenditures closely, why would you do anything else in other aspects of life?

Collecting is good financial training in addition to its other aspects. While nobody is going to take up collecting because it will help with managing the family budget, I imagine that the savings from good budgeting might just go into hobby expenditures.

Does that mean that because money spent on coins is offset elsewhere that they are in effect free? Hmm.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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