Picking Money Up Off The Floor

Posted by Dave W. | Tuesday, January 20, 2009 | , 0 comments |

Most financial experts and bloggers will say that the road to financial freedom begins with one simple formula:  make more money than you spend. And the way to do that is by either making more money or cut expenses.

But it’s not always that simple. Often times, people let money fall out of our pockets and never bend over to pick it up. And when that happens, the money blows away in the wind never to return. What do I mean? Well, while those people might skip the trip to Starbucks and save $5, there is often money sitting in front of them that they fail to see even though it is right in front of them. And money that “falls” out of their pockets due to laziness or disorganization. I’m no different in that respect. Letting that store coupon expire even though I’ve shopped there store 20 times before the coupon expired. Failing to return that library book before it was due and having to pay a fine. Not mailing the check on time, only to get hit with a late fee. Been there, done that.

That being said, here are several things I have done recently to “pick the money off the floor”:

1. Cancelled my Blockbuster Online membership. Funny thing about this one. I originally got this membership to save money. I figured if I rented a movie a week, it would pay for itself, especially since I didn’t have to use gas to drive to my local Blockbuster 4 miles away from my house. Just mail the movies back, get a new one sent. Easy, right? Too easy. Because lazy me didn’t mail back my movies for 2 months. I could have owned both movies for the same price that it cost me for the membership ($17.99/month).

2. Mailed in a rebate form. After about a year of being out of contract and replacing my phone twice with used phones, I finally broke down and got a new cell phone. Quite frankly, I could do without a cell phone but my employer that reimburses me $50/month towards my cell phone sees it differently. I refused to spend money on a phone; I was determined to wait until the price dropped. So my wife and I got 2 nice new LG VX 8550 phones for FREE, after my “new every two” discount and the $50 mail-in rebate. Why do these rebates exist anyway? Can’t companies just give you the rebate on the front end? Of course they can. So, why don’t they? Well, it’s simple. Just like coupons, rebates offer a good value and incentive for a customer to purchase a company’s product.

Of course, the company hopes you never mail in that rebate or use that coupon because that money then stays in their pockets. Companies know people lose the rebate forms, throw out the box with the required UPC code or just don’t mail them in. I wasn’t going to be one of those people, so I mailed in my form and in 6-8 weeks, I’ll get my $50 check.

3. Cancelled service on my DirecTv converter box. Saved $4.99/month on this one. The wiring outside got chewed by a rodent and I have no TV in my family room. I could get a tech out to fix it, but at $75 minimum for a service call, I’ll pass. Besides, we don’t really spend much time in the family room anyway.

4. 15 minutes saved me $12/month on my phone bill. I have the unlimited local/long distance package with Verizon and was paying $44.99/month. This is down from the $49.99/month I was originally paying before I called regarding a commercial advertising the exact plan I had for $5 less than what I was paying. Unfortunately, most of my friends and family live about an hour away so everything is a toll call and the unlimited plan is a necessity. But I figured I could use my cell phone and Skype to make these calls and just keep the basic phone line so I can connect to TiVo. So I called Verizon to downgrade my service and they lowered my rate to $32.99/month for the same exact plan. I think I might have lost 3-way calling, but I never use it anyway, so no big loss. Just like the coupons and rebates I mentioned earlier, these companies hope you don’t take advantage of these deals. But they do have them in place as a way of keeping you as a customer. Eventually, I’ll probably cut the wires and ditch my house phone. But for right now, I’m too close to my minutes and the cell phone reception is spotty in my house sometimes (although much improved with my new cell phone).