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3 Mistakes that Eat Your Bank Account

How many times have you looked down your nose at a product or service with a lower price because you felt it’s value was too inferior? You get what you pay for and only suckers expect the best from less, right?

Sometimes the lower price is indicative of poor performance. One day I was comparing outdoor surveillance cameras on Amazon. There were models that were more than 50% off the regular price, and while on face it should have pleased me to be able to buy something at a dramatic discount, one look at the customer reviews explained the rip-off.

But, more often than not it’s our own perceptions that trump reality.
We, ahem, I, sometimes fall victim to clever marketing tactics, and my hard-earned money walks out seemingly of its own accord.

So, in no particular order, here are three expenditures where I could have lost money but “finally” got smart.

1. Ditch the Cell Phone Establishment

Perception: Why would people leave one of the major carriers and go with a lesser known operator for their very important smartphones? I would rather pay a little more cash and avoid dropped calls and poor Internet service. Do these secondary providers even have access to cell towers?

Reality: I was paying almost $160 on a contract with the company formerly known as Sprint for just two devices. I switched to Ting, and the quality of my experience did not change in the slightest. My bill was less than a third of what I’d grown accustomed to paying. Best of all, I could walk away anytime.

And walk away I did. I am a Comcast subscriber now, and their Xfinity Mobile plan has me paying even less than Ting.

2. Buy Refurbished

Perception: Refurbished? Isn’t that a glorified label for used? As in, someone else dropped or damaged the device, and now I’m expected to buy this thing with no warranty?

Reality: The product has been tested. It’s been repackaged, and the manufacturer will honor a warranty policy equal to or very close to the original offer. It’s in the seller’s best interest to move reliable products.

A lot of consumers will pass on appliances because they have cosmetic damage that has zero impact on the product’s functionality. I promise the dent on the side of that washer machine will not affect the way it handles your delicates. No, I have not purchased a refurbished washer, but I do have a new outlook on the subject.

A few years ago I bought a Dell XPS 13, one of the company’s most popular models. Dell wanted to sell it to me at nearly $1,200. I found a refurbished model on Amazon for $649. The ultrabook had been repackaged. There were zero cosmetic defects, so I got exactly what I wanted for almost half off. When I handed the laptop off to someone else a year after purchase, the computer was still performing as good as new. Actually, I rather miss that laptop.

Am I a believer in all things refurbished? Well, I’m working on it, but you can bet now I won’t hesitate to check them out.

3. Sign Up for Online Banking

Perception: What? No human tellers to handle my urgent transactions? How can a bank be a bank without a building I can visit? How on earth am I supposed to deposit checks for crying out loud! They must be running a foreign scam. Yeah, thanks, but no thanks.

Reality: The brick and mortar locations, friendly tellers and glitzy commercials are paid for by your increasing fees. Seriously, I think only airlines come close to creatively giving you the shaft. These days you can sign up with places like Ally Bank. You can deposit checks by snapping a picture of them. You can withdraw money at a large network of ATMs with no fees, and the convenience of paying bills is just as simple via an online bank as a traditional brick and mortar.

Over the past eight years I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve needed to visit a local branch, and these few visits had to do with the purchase of my home.

Final Thoughts

You should always make wise decisions about how you invest your money, and in doing so, I hope you’ll keep these points in mind:

  • Pay for the quality, not the brand.
  • Few of the latest models will work dramatically better than last year’s lineup.
  • Convenience is what you say it is and not what someone else says it ought to be.
  • Think twice before buying higher end.
  • Unless they’re paying your bills, what other people think about your choice in purchase is irrelevant.
  • Refurbished does not equal cheap!

You work hard for your money. Next time you’re about to check out, ask yourself if any of the products can be replaced with something less expensive so that you can keep more of that hard-earned money in your bank account!

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment!

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My blog is a collection of advice I wish someone had shared with me when I was young and targets subjects like personal finance, careers, and relationships. It publishes Mondays with the occasional bonus article. Sign up to have fresh content delivered straight to your inbox, no SPAM!


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