Title text: And if you drive a typical car more than a mile out of your way for each penny you save on the per-gallon price, it doesn't matter how worthless your time is to you--the gas to get you there and back costs more than you save.
This comic is a jab at price-gouging shoppers who spend large amounts of time checking multiple shopping outlets for the best deals. The minimum wage is the lowest possible wage that a person could legally be paid, usually only targeted at providing unskilled laborers with an equitable level of income. In 2011, when this comic was published, US Federal minimum wage was $7.25 an hour, though certain states and cities typically have higher minimum wages. Using simple math, the caption states that a person is effectively working below the minimum wage when they spend their time looking to save a few cents on their purchases. (Randall's math checks out: $7.25/hour times nine minutes would equate to just over $1.08)
Benjamin Franklin's adage "A penny saved is a penny earned" is usually taken to mean that a person, merely by making the effort to save their money rather than spending it frivolously, has put in worthwhile effort that makes them deserving of that money. Cueball flips the meaning of the phrase, instead saying that saving money is work just like a job, and as one would not take a job that paid less than minimum wage, the compensation is inadequate for the amount of effort it would take to drive to a cheaper gas station.
Of course, if you are unemployed and cannot expect to get any wages it could still be worth your time.
The title text, however, then goes on to talk about how the extra fuel consumption involved in finding cheaper gas leads to more extra money being spent on gas than is actually saved at the cheaper outlet.
However, Randall neglects to consider the effect that customers have on prices. If customers consistently go out of their way to get the lowest prices, then sellers will be motivated to lower their prices to attract customers. On the other hand, if customers consistently purchase from the most convenient seller, then sellers can raise prices without losing business.
- [Ponytail is standing next to Cueball filling his vehicle with petrol. Ponytail is pointing off-screen.]
- Ponytail: Why are you going here? Gas is ten cents a gallon cheaper at the station five minutes that way.
- Cueball: Because a penny saved is a penny earned.
- If you spend nine minutes of your time to save a dollar, you're working for less than minimum wage.
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