Today’s Editorial for July 10: It pays to shop around

These days, the popular response to the rhetorical question ‘What’s up?’ seems to be ‘Nothing but the cost of living.’

Indeed, prices for just about everything in the Cayman Islands have gone up, a knock-on effect of the rising costs of oil.

The Cayman Government has said it will do what it can to reduce the costs of living, but it can realistically only do so much.

One thing it has done is to initiate a process to try and get the gasoline stations on the island to be more competitive in their pricing. A study completed last year showed a very high price mark-up on fuel by Cayman’s wholesalers and retailers.

The government mandated that all gasoline stations post their prices on signs, which gives motorists a chance to see what they are paying before they pull into the station. But unless motorists check the signs on all the stations they pass during their normal commute, it is difficult for them to actually compare prices at different stations.

That has now changed.

Anyone with access to the Internet can now visit the Petroleum Inspectorate’s website – which is accessed through the Planning Department’s website at www.planning.gov.ky – and see a list of all the full serve gasoline prices in the Cayman Islands. The list will be updated at least monthly, and possibly more often if there are substantial changes to pricing.

Anyone checking the list posted last week will notice a wide variation of gasoline pricing – with lower grade gasoline ranging from $5 to $5.30 per gallon.

Doing the math, on a 10-gallon purchase of gasoline, a consumer would save $3 by going to a station that charges the lowest price compared to one charging the highest price. That might not seem like a lot, but if you purchase 10 gallons of gasoline a week, it adds up to $156 a year. If you own a larger vehicle that uses more gasoline, or if you have a longer daily commute, the savings would increase.

But it not only pays to shop for gasoline, it pays to shop for many different items. Prices on food, clothes and durable goods in the Cayman Islands can vary significantly from place to place, and a smart shopper can save a lot of money, which can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of a year.

In the challenging economic times many residents find themselves, every little bit helps. Being thrifty shouldn’t be looked on as being cheap; it should be seen as taking steps to avoid wasting money.

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