I visited my brother over the weekend. He gave me another example of how to live fiscally responsibly without being cheap.
You: Why is “living fiscally responsibly, not cheaply” such an obsession for you?
While obsession seems like a strong word, the concept is critical because it is sustainable.
You: You mean from an environmental perspective?
No. A successful saving strategy is one in which the individual stays with it. In talking with thousands of regular people throughout the country every year, I’ve concluded that saving strategies are only sustainable (and thereby effective) if there is either little pain or no pain associated with the actual implementation of the strategy.
An easy-to-remember example is adjusting your cell phone plan to the right package instead of paying for a ton of minutes and features you don’t use (or, in the other extreme, ensuring you don’t pay any expensive overages). You still get to use your phone in the exact same way as you do now, yet at a lower price than you may currently be paying. Note: your cell phone company isn’t going to call to tell you that there’s an easy way to lower your monthly bill. You’ve got to do the work, but once you invest 10 or 15 minutes of time, the savings you get reoccur every month. Cell phone bill reductions are an example of sustainable savings because the pain – measured as the time and what you have to give up – is nominal and non-existent respectively.
My brother’s example was for XM radio.
You: That’s a luxury.
I happen to agree, but millions of others don’t feel that way.
You: Paying for radio? C’mon!
I’m not going to defend it, as I don’t have it myself. However, I’ll ask you to consider the fact that you, in all likelihood, have at least basic cable for your TV. Technically, you could have free TV through antennae (at least for a few more months) but you choose to pay for it.
You: Okay but –
I know, I’m not there yet either. But here’s the point. My brother became convinced he wanted XM radio after one of those free trials.
You: That’s why the companies do free trials.
I know. But rather than just pay the stated rate when he decided he wanted to continue with XM, he did some research online and found that there just might be a lower rate plan available if he said the magic phrase.
No. Not Ovaltine either. But my brother said the magic phrase to the right person and, presto, he’s now paying a lot less than the rate most frequently advertised. Same satellite radio, yet a different and lower price. Given that he wants XM, he’s being fiscally responsible. The exercise cost him just a few minutes of time and yet the monthly savings are forever.
You: Still, it’s satellite radio, a luxury.
For you and I: yes. For others, no. But I bet you could think of other examples of things or services that you want or need that others may be paying different amounts than you are. Care to give an example? Be as specific or general as you wish.