You've probably noticed that I do a lot of little things to save money and to earn extra money. You might think that because of these actions, I'm able to get ahead financially. Sometimes that's true, but sometimes I feel like I have to make all those extra efforts just to break even. Here are some examples of recent experiences that have made me feel this way.
-I got a check in the mail for some articles I wrote for Investopedia. I also got my car insurance bill, which was for the exact same amount as my Investopedia check. Sigh.
-My apartment had to be fumigated, so I took my cats to a friend's house to save money instead of taking them to a kitty hotel. Turns out I (unintentionally) did not follow all of the pest control company's apartment preparation instructions, so my apartment didn't get sprayed. Now I have to take my cats to the kitty hotel after all, because on the long drive to my friend's house, I learned that one of my cats gets severe motion sickness, and I'm not about to put her through that again. I might also get stuck with the fumigation bill, since the pest control company is having to make a special second trip back to our building. I would find that particularly frustrating, since it was an honest mistake.
-I went to Old Navy to exchange a sweater. I didn't find another sweater I liked, but I did find a killer deal on a robe. I even finally remembered to use a 10% off coupon I'd been carrying around in my wallet for months. On my way home, I was all psyched about the extra $1.50 I saved with the coupon, and then I realized that I was refunded $3.50 less than I should have been for the sweater.
-I finally sold my old car and was happy that I would be able to save money on my car insurance now that I will only be insuring one car instead of two. No such luck! They tell me that my rate will actually go up because I will no longer qualify for a multi-vehicle discount. (I don't understand this at all--doesn't having fewer cars decrease my risk?)
-I went to Target specifically to save money on wrapping paper by shopping the day after Christmas. Everything was 50% off. I left half of my purchase at the store and wasn't able to retrieve it because of my schedule, completely voiding my savings and the time I spent shopping for bargains.
-My health insurance premium, which I pay for myself, got raised by a whopping 40% per month even though I file maybe one claim per year for a basic checkup. (How are they justifying this increase, and where is my universal health care?)
New-agey gurus like T. Harv Eker and Rhonda Byrne would say that by focusing on the negative, I'm only going to attract more money-losing events into my life. As hokey as I think it is to look in the mirror, point to my head, and say, "I have a millionaire mind!" multiple times a day (which I do not ever do, by the way), I agree with the basic premise. I'm better off focusing on positive financial events like getting a new writing assignment or saving $350 by being able to use frequent flyer miles to go on an upcoming trip.
The best way I've found to deal with annoying, unanticipated expenses like these is to do what I can to take charge of the situation instead of merely accepting things. I wrote a letter to Old Navy. I wrote a letter to my health insurance company asking for information on different plans with lower premiums. I started shopping around for car insurance to see if I could get a lower rate by switching companies. Maybe I'll be able to decrease my expenses this way, but if not, I'll just have to find another way to cut costs. Sometimes there is no good solution and I have to try not to waste my energy resenting the fact that my health insurance company is stealing money from me that could be going towards my future house down payment. I can feel a little better about situations like these knowing that I tried to find a way to turn things around. And, of course, sometimes the attempts to turn things around are successful, and what looked like a great annoyance ends up being a great opportunity.
Photo by Andriz
Why It's Wise to Review Your Insurance Needs Once a Year
Things I Wasted Money On This Year
Things I Didn't Waste Money On This Year
Understanding Disability Income Insurance
Insurance Matters When Buying a New Car
How Lifestyle Inflation Can Sneak Up On You
How Increased Income Has Changed My Spending Habits