consumer http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7984/all en-US Become a Producer to Put Your Consumption in Perspective http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-producer-to-put-your-consumption-in-perspective <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/become-a-producer-to-put-your-consumption-in-perspective" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home-4361219-small.jpg" alt="carpentry" title="carpentry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Since the invention of agriculture, and especially since the industrial revolution, the division between what we call production and what we call consumption has grown increasingly stark. This is crazy. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-freedom-of-the-independent-yeoman">The Freedom of the Independent Yeoman</a>)</p> <p>Oh, there's a reason for it &mdash; if everybody specializes in whatever they do best, all our standards of living go up.</p> <p>Whether the thing you do best is drive a truck or operate precision machine tools or write software or style hair, it makes the most economic sense for you to do that thing for as many hours a week as practical, and then use the money you earn to buy the necessities of life.</p> <p>Even if you're a polymath who can do carpentry as well as the best cabinet maker <em>and</em> brand steers as well as the best cowboy, it makes no economic sense to try to do both jobs for yourself (and not just because of the overhead of switching from workshop to open range). If you stick to what you do best and I stick to what I do best, and then we use economic transactions to trade for what we need, we both come out ahead.</p> <p>That simple fact does not make it reasonable to create this rigid binary division in our lives. Many things can &mdash; and should &mdash; be both production and consumption.</p> <h2>Why You Should Expand Your Production</h2> <p>Your standard of living is usually measured by how much money you spend getting the things you want, and by that standard you're always going to come out ahead working more hours at your regular job, earning more money, and then spending it on stuff you want.</p> <p>So, of course, what I'm saying is that that standard is wrong. There are a bunch of <em>non-economic</em> advantages to including some production in your life, besides your regular job. Let's look at some of the key ones.</p> <p><strong>It's More Fun</strong></p> <p>Maybe whatever you do for your job is the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/dream-job-or-day-job">most fun thing you can think of</a> to do. I hope so &mdash; that's the best situation to be in. But even people who love their jobs usually have other things they want to do, too. Some of those things will be pure consumption &mdash; eating dinner, watching a movie, playing a video game &mdash; but some of them will have a component of production &mdash; knitting a sweater, painting a picture, working in the garden. Do not disdain the productive aspects of these sorts of activities, just because you'd be &quot;more productive&quot; at your regular job.</p> <p><strong>It's Higher Quality, Maybe</strong></p> <p>For a lot of things, you can't produce a higher quality item than you can buy. (You can't make a better cell phone or camera lens, for example.) But there are a bunch of ways that your own production can be better than what you can buy. You can use better raw materials &mdash; knitting with premium wool. You can produce exactly what you want &mdash; cooking dinner exactly to your own taste. You can add a personal touch &mdash; writing your own condolence notes.</p> <p><strong>It's More Satisfying</strong></p> <p>A lot of the things where the quality of what you produce doesn't quite measure up can still be entirely satisfactory &mdash; and more satisfying. Anybody can whittle a wooden spoon, and even your first efforts are probably going to be good enough to use in the kitchen, even if you could buy a better wooden spoon for less than the cost of a piece of wood suitable for whittling. It would probably take years of practice (not to mention a forge or metal shop) to make a kitchen knife as good as one you can buy for a few dollars &mdash; but if you enjoy the work, even your early practice knives are going to be good enough to use, and much more satisfying than an $8 knife from a big box store.</p> <p><strong>It's More Dependable</strong></p> <p>It's always more dependable to do something yourself than to seek it in the money economy. When you do, you're insulated from global corporations deciding that whatever you want is no longer sufficiently profitable to produce, or should be produced in inferior form, or should be sold at a higher price. You're also much less dependent on the smooth functioning of the economy &mdash; each thing you can produce yourself is one thing you can be sure you can provide for your family, even if you lose your job.</p> <p><strong>It's Healthier</strong></p> <p>This comes to the fore with food-related production: gardening and cooking. From a health perspective, you're way ahead of the game cooking your own food as compared buying industrial food. Food you grow in your garden is unquestionably fresher than anything you can buy, and it's probably more nutritious as well (not to mention tastier). But not just food falls into this category. You can choose your own lawn care chemicals, if you do your own yard work, for example.</p> <p><strong>It's More Ethical</strong></p> <p>Each thing you can produce for yourself is one more thing you can be comfortable consuming, without having to worry if it was produced in a sweatshop by child laborers or prisoners or slaves. You can know that it wasn't tested on animals. You can know that it is made from materials produced in a sustainable manner.</p> <p><strong>It's Possible</strong></p> <p>When you think about it, the whole idea that you could just work one more hour and earn another hour's pay may be completely false. A lot of people are on salary &mdash; they can work all the hours they want, but they won't get paid any more. A lot of other people are already working as many hours as their employer has available. A lot of people don't even have regular jobs. What they can earn for each extra hour worked is hard even to know. But you can always produce the things you need and know you'll have those things.</p> <h2>How You Can Produce</h2> <p>In the examples above, I've already implied a bunch of ways you can add production to your life, but here's a short list of some of the most obvious &mdash; the ones that anyone can do.</p> <p>All of these are, of course, in addition to your regular job, your regular contracting gig, or your regular profession.</p> <p><strong>Cooking</strong></p> <p>Cooking is probably the most basic way to add production into your life. It's always going to be <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugalize-any-recipe">cheaper and healthier</a> than eating out, and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/teach-yourself-to-cook">probably quicker and easier</a> as well. It can also produce better tasting food, if you put a little effort into getting good at it.</p> <p><strong>Your Garden</strong></p> <p>Gardening is a bigger step than cooking, but it doesn't have to be a huge step. A few pots on the windowsill can give you fresh herbs that will taste way better than anything you can buy in a jar. Even a small patio or balcony has room for a pot to grow a tomato plant or a pepper plant. Even the smallest patch of ground has enough space to grow some lettuce, spinach, kale, mustard or collard greens. It is immensely satisfying to eat food that you grew yourself.</p> <p><strong>Your Hobby</strong></p> <p>When people think of the economic impact of the hobby they're usually listing it as an expense &mdash; the cost of tools and supplies. If they think of it as production, they're usually thinking of what they can make and sell. But many other things are also production; things you make and use. Things you make and trade. Things you make and give away. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-hobby-pay-its-way">Any hobby</a> where you make something is production.</p> <p><strong>Household Repair and Maintenance</strong></p> <p>This is the classic example of coming out ahead by sticking to the money economy &mdash; work at your regular job; pay someone to do your yard work for you. This is all the more true for work that requires specialized tools, such as car repair, where someone who specializes in the work can keep their tools busy. And yet it remains the case that doing it yourself can be more dependable (no more waiting around for a workman who doesn't show up), more satisfying (getting something done the way you want it), healthier (choosing what chemicals your family gets exposed to), and all the other advantages listed above.</p> <p><strong>Solar Panels, etc.</strong></p> <p>Just like a garden is an opportunity to have your yard produce for you, things like solar panels are a way for you to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/non-financial-investments">have production happen</a> without having to do anything yourself. (And solar panels are getting cheaper all the time.) Something as simple as a rain barrel, catching water that falls on your roof so that you can use it later to water your lawn or garden, makes you that much less dependent on the money economy.</p> <p>Be careful about dividing your life into production and consumption. Many areas of your life can &mdash; and should &mdash; be both at the same time. I like to start each day with a bit of production, just to know that I've done so, even if I do quite a bit of consuming later in the day.</p> <p><em>How about you? What do you produce that isn't part of your regular job?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-producer-to-put-your-consumption-in-perspective">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/money-making-hobby-panning-for-gold">Money making hobby: panning for gold</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-pretty-things-4-reasons-im-keeping-my-ugly-old-stuff">Beware of Pretty Things: 4 Reasons I’m Keeping My Ugly, Old Stuff</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-hobby-pay-its-way">Make Your Hobby Pay Its Way</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-a-luxury-eccentricity">Choosing a Luxury Eccentricity</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-self-sufficient-life-and-how-to-live-it">Book review: The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle consumer hobby self-sufficiency Wed, 03 Jul 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Philip Brewer 980306 at http://www.wisebread.com Beware of Pretty Things: 4 Reasons I’m Keeping My Ugly, Old Stuff http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-pretty-things-4-reasons-im-keeping-my-ugly-old-stuff <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-of-pretty-things-4-reasons-im-keeping-my-ugly-old-stuff" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000010325055XSmall.jpg" alt="Old furniture" title="Old furniture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="165" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I hadn&rsquo;t been out shopping at a furniture mega-store in over 6 months. I just didn&rsquo;t have the money to buy anything, and to be honest, I was way too busy to shop. Last night, however, I strolled through the furniture showroom with my jaw unhinged and my heart thumping: &ldquo;Look at all this good-looking stuff!&rdquo;</p> <p>My husband, who is unusually thrifty, wasn&rsquo;t immune, either. He started pondering where the cherry-finished dresser could go in our room, what kind of storage the under-bed cabinets could provide, and how a smallish, 5-drawer dresser could keep the kids&rsquo; clothes under control. &ldquo;$187 is actually a steal,&rdquo; we both thought at the same time.</p> <p>Wait. What was happening? We had scrimped and saved through years of lay-offs, the start of a home business, and four closely-spaced children. We were looking at ways to save money with our own cows, chickens, and a spacious garden. Why would we so carelessly consider jumping on this &ldquo;gotta have it&rdquo; bandwagon? After some careful consideration, we left the store empty-handed. They didn&rsquo;t have the exact item we came for, but there were other reasons for keeping our heads on our shoulders (and our money in our pockets).</p> <h2>My stuff is better</h2> <p>Sure, my dresser had crayon scribbles on the side, sported a horrible pink trim, and was given to me by my mom (who had gotten it from her mom 20 years before). It was ugly to look at, but it did the job just fine. (In fact, after regularly abusing the drawers on my 1950s dresser, I was disgusted at the cheap particle-board and plastic rails that most of the &ldquo;new&rdquo; showroom dressers were made of. Thank goodness for solid hardwood and indestructible steel riveting.)</p> <h2>My stuff isn&rsquo;t noticed</h2> <p>Why did I need beautiful, matching furniture? Part of the allure was to be able to show it off when people came to visit. I often cringed a bit when guests would stay over, explaining to them that the mismatched, second-hand guest bedroom set was &ldquo;temporary&rdquo; (although I doubt they even noticed). As I&rsquo;ve grown more comfortable with my lifestyle, I&rsquo;ve found ways to work around the magazine chic that seems to impress others. I can keep my junk looking smart by refinishing wooden furniture, throwing matching slip-covers over faded couches, and keeping a nice fabric tablecloth on hand for when guests arrive. The other furniture (like that in my bedroom), won&rsquo;t be seen by anyone but my husband and myself, anyway.</p> <h2>My stuff is paid for</h2> <p>When it all comes down to it, I wasn&rsquo;t comfortable charging any of the furniture on my credit card (not that I&rsquo;m anti-credit). I thought about how hard I worked, and it wasn&rsquo;t in me to write extra articles or take more time away from my kids to have matching chairs in the dining room. Most of my furniture, in fact, was not only paid for, but it was paid for by previous generations and set out on the curb (where I so kindly took it off their hands).</p> <h2>My stuff is mine</h2> <p>Sometimes, when no one is looking, I admire the way my nightstand holds my favorite book, some cough drops, and a few scented candles so perfectly. It fits just right alongside my bed, and it reminds me of the nights spent comforting a sick child, while the rest of the world was fast asleep. There is a kind of romance that can develop between an ugly piece of furniture and its owner. (My favorite dresser from high school still features a few bumper stickers from concerts that my parents wouldn&rsquo;t let me attend.)</p> <p>The next time you start to get a little impatient with your current décor, remember that function trumps fashion. Some furniture can bring an aesthetic beauty to your home that may well be worth the investment. If it doesn&rsquo;t meet your needs, however, it was worthless from the moment you bought it.</p> <p><em>So what are your thoughts on old, ugly furniture? Do you love it? Hate it? Live with it because you have to?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-pretty-things-4-reasons-im-keeping-my-ugly-old-stuff">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-gift-guide-gifts-that-save-money">25 Gifts That Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-thoughtful-and-frugal-personalized-gift-ideas">25 Thoughtful and Frugal Personalized Gift Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Shopping consumer furniture used Mon, 02 Mar 2009 20:12:14 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2883 at http://www.wisebread.com Gas Is High Enough…. http://www.wisebread.com/gas-is-high-enough <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/gas-is-high-enough" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/gas pump.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="375" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">Watching my local newscast a few nights ago, I was disturbed by the assumption that the anchor made regarding rising gas prices and consumer reaction.<span> </span>In direct response to the possibility that gas would reach <a href="/what-will-you-do-when-gas-hits-4-per-gallon">$4.00/gallon</a>, he mused at whether even this horrific amount for gas would be enough to “change consumers’ habits.”<span> </span><em>What?</em><span> </span>As if we’re not doing that already.<span> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">I see many ways that folks are trying to cut down on fuel costs, including, but not limited to: combining shopping trips, using internet mail-order options, carpooling, using bicycles, walking, and even telecommuting for work.<span> </span>These are all very good ways to cut down on gas consumption, and the high costs associated with it.<span> </span>So who are these people that “aren’t” yet affected by gas prices, and what world are they living in? </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Perhaps they are the same people that aren’t affected by layoffs, natural disasters, or bankruptcy.<span> </span>Maybe they are the same people who have reacted to financial pitfalls in their own personal lives by spending more.<span> </span>They might be a Working Joe who has a house they can’t afford, or a well-to-do business person with a gambling habit or a penchant for pricey cars and golf retreats.<span> </span>To be honest, I don’t know these people.<span> </span>Maybe they don’t fully understand the <a href="/choosing-between-apples-and-oranges">Apples and Oranges</a> mentality of money.<span> </span>They might not have ever used a budget.<span> </span><strong><em>Everyone I know</em></strong> has changed their habits out of necessity and in response to rising gas prices – if only on a subliminal level. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">So while my friendly news reporter is blathering on about high costs that aren’t yet high enough to warrant change, I am steaming up about the whole thing.<span> </span>Most people have changed.<span> </span>Most people are still changing.<span> </span>Those of us that know the meaning of a budget understand that a $200 allotment for gas per month means just that… you get $200 and no more.<span> </span>You make it work by driving less or taking money from some other spending category.<span> </span>You certainly do not hang around the pumps eagerly awaiting the magical $4 mark so that you can merely consider more <a href="/gas-efficient-driving">efficient driving habits</a> or <a href="/can-acetone-dramatically-increase-your-gas-mileage">kicking in a little acetone</a>. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Maybe we’ve just been to quiet about the whole thing.<span> </span>Yeah, we’re upset about fuel costs, but we’re also responsible adults that understand a thing or two about the economy.<span> </span>We don’t crab and complain and then continue to buy the same amount of gas we bought last year.<span> </span>We adjust. We adapt. We make it work. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">I anxiously await the next news report that claims to label all U.S. consumers as oblivious to the gas crisis and the whispers of $5/gallon gas.<span> </span>Then maybe, I’ll trade in my nightly news report for <a href="http://www.dailynewstribune.com/state/x39088140">some facts</a> from the Daily News Tribune.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gas-is-high-enough">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-gas-dont-make-left-hand-turns">Save gas; don&#039;t make left-hand turns.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/product-feedback-is-worth-your-time">Product Feedback Is Worth Your Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light">Could the last person to leave America please turn out the light.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-benefits-of-a-walkable-neighborhood">The Benefits of a Walkable Neighborhood</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-will-you-do-when-gas-drops-below-150-a-gallon">What will you do when gas drops below $1.50 a gallon?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Cars and Transportation Consumer Affairs consumer Economy gas price Tue, 22 Apr 2008 18:49:57 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2032 at http://www.wisebread.com Miser v. Stunna: A Case Study http://www.wisebread.com/miser-v-stunna-a-case-study <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/miser-v-stunna-a-case-study" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/Miser Man.jpg" alt="Don&#039;t splurge, don&#039;t hoard" title="This guy saves too much money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="109" height="93" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><span>Ever considered where you are on the consumer/financial PH chart? </span></p> <p><span>Meet Gene Burd. He is an eccentric old journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin. I call the septuagenarian scholar eccentric because he&#39;s rich. If he were poor he would just be weird. </span><span>This is a man who according to campus legend and local news reports never married, holds his hand over his mouth when he talks so as not to waste that valuable oxygen. He has no ride and walks seven miles per day to work. He lives in a flat so small if he did the splits his heels would be hanging out of his front and back door. He finds kicks in the trash, cleans them up and rocks them to school. He collects pennies to pay his phone bill. Funny, because he&#39;s not keen on using the phone. Yet he has amassed a fortune on a teacher&#39;s salary because he&#39;s extremely cheap. He was then able to donate a cool $1 million to an educational foundation. You can’t argue that his methods, however uncanny, garnered results. Sick disciplined genius or fiscal pathology?</span></p> <p><span>Now meet Brian &quot;Baby&quot; Williams, known professionally as &quot;Birdman,&quot; known para-professionally as the &quot;#1 Stunna.&quot; He&#39;s the founder and CEO of New Orleans-based Cash Money Records. In his latest poetic opus, he quips, &quot;I got a <a href="http://birdmanstunna.com/">hundred million</a> dollars and I come from the ghetto!&quot; In a passage from another one of his songs, he says that he leaves the sticker on the Bentley to &quot;show off the price&quot; and makes sure his arm is out of the window so he can floss his &quot;ice.&quot; He spent $2 million on a necklace. Sick price of fame or fiscal pathology?</span></p> <p><span>We all fall somewhere in between the extremes of these two gentleman but often exhibit both traits, albeit on a smaller scale.</span></p> <p><span>The most important thing in money management is not financial wit, business savvy or even mathematical prowess. It is attitude. Ask yourself what your thoughts, feelings, prejudices, inclinations and tendencies are around moolah. If you can answer the question honestly, then you can save hundreds or perhaps thousands everyday -- especially in your initial consultation with whatever funds guru you&#39;re counting on to help you get your life together.</span></p> <p><span>Sadly, many of us can&#39;t answer these questions honestly because we live in a society of instant gratification, a modern realm where we&#39;re told we have to have things, where people stand in line overnight not to get paid but to pay for the new, new thing. The dishonesty lies at the intersection of our choice pendulum. </span></p> <p><span> </span><span>We convince ourselves we need -- &quot;I need an iPhone so I can e-mail my cat from the train and then I&#39;ll just have one topless dance at the strip club instead of a full nude, gotta save some money.&quot; -- a good or service. </span></p> <p><span> </span><span>Or we bargain with ourselves -- &quot;I&#39;ll get this bottle of Patron tonight for all the fellas and the ladiezzzzzz, but next week I&#39;m at the crib chillin, not spending any money. I swear.&quot;</span></p> <p><span> </span><span>Worst of all, we chastise ourselves -- &quot;I&#39;m not being unreasonable, I deserve this $1,500 spa weekend on the island of Tu Dahmuche, I never get time off!&quot;</span></p> <p><span>Worst still, when things get tight, when confidence dissipates, when we grimace looking at our bank statements, our pendulum swings entirely the other way. All of a sudden we tell ourselves that we&#39;re staying home for eternity. Some start collecting Hot Sauce, Soy Sauce and Ketchup packets. Others buy one big whole chicken, chop it up and put it in a stew so they can piecemeal for a fortnight.  </span></p> <p><span>Wowww people, you don&#39;t have to do that.</span></p> <p><span>There is a logical range of frugality that you and you alone must consider. At one end is the self-rationalizing spend thrift and manic consumer. At the other is the miser, the cheap weirdo. </span></p> <p><span>You should take lessons from both and try to be practical.</span></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jabulani-leffall">Jabulani Leffall</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/miser-v-stunna-a-case-study">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-should-donate-a-blood-sucking-timeshare">Why You Should Donate a Blood Sucking Timeshare</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-more-gas-by-safely-following-trucks">Save More Gas by Safely Following Trucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/common-currency-a-primer">Common Currency: A Primer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/killin-em-out-there-the-school-clothes-conundrum">Killin &#039;em Out There: The School Clothes Conundrum</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living consumer money personal finance saving money Sat, 12 Jan 2008 20:26:06 +0000 Jabulani Leffall 1624 at http://www.wisebread.com Product Feedback Is Worth Your Time http://www.wisebread.com/product-feedback-is-worth-your-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/product-feedback-is-worth-your-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/feedback.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="162" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">I couldn’t believe that my 3M Microfiber mop had cracked – again.<span> </span>It was the 3rd time in 6 months, and the thing wasn’t exactly cheap.<span> </span>I was ready to cry.<span> </span>Not because the dumb thing broke, but because I had company coming over in a few hours, and I was now reduced to scrubbing on my hands and knees the way my mother did in the 80’s.<span> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Days went by before I decided to email the company to give them a run-down of what happened with the mop.<span> </span>I wasn’t expecting anything in return, but I needed to vent.<span> </span>I politely drafted an account of all the times the mop broke, and how it had disappointed me to the point of considering a lifetime ban of their cleaning products.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The email was sent; I felt better. I had almost let it go, when the postman came to my door a week later with a large package.<span> </span>Inside the box was a new mop, two replacement mop heads, coupons for a few free products, and a letter of apology.<span> </span>3M had redeemed themselves, and I was cleaning my floors again.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>What did I gain from this experience?</strong><span> </span>At first glance it would seem a few free products.<span> </span>It really went deeper than that, however.<span> </span>3M went on to redesign their mop head.<span> </span>I haven’t had the problem of a breakage since.<span> </span>I may have been influential in changing the way a product was made, and it was simple to do.<span> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Product feedback doesn’t always have to come in the form of a complaint</strong>, however.<span> </span>I have taken a few minutes to give kudos for a well-made product more than once in my lifetime.<span> </span>A particularly effective laundry soap or a better-than-average granola have received high praise from me in the form of a call to their 800-number designated for complaints and questions.<span> </span>(Note:<span> </span>The folks fielding the call are usually so delighted to hear positive feedback that they will treat you like royalty, and often free product coupons or special incentives will find their way into your mailbox!)</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Not feeling up to speaking to anyone?</strong><span> </span>Email is still an effective way to go.<span> </span>While you may not get the resolution you need as quickly as phoning the customer service department, it is a great way to record the dates and times of your contacts.<span> </span>Eventually, you will get a response.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Taking time to give quality feedback is an opportunity that can often reap great rewards.<span> </span>Go ahead and let companies know how you feel.<span> </span>It may result in better products for everyone and a little incentive in your pocket!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/product-feedback-is-worth-your-time">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gas-is-high-enough">Gas Is High Enough….</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">The Overdraft Protection Racket: Why Banks Want You To Overdraw, And How You Can Get Your Money Back.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/explaining-away-the-green-m-m">Explaining Away the Green M&amp;M</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-check-if-your-mortgage-statement-is-correct">How to check if your mortgage statement is correct</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs consumer feedback products Tue, 27 Nov 2007 18:40:54 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1432 at http://www.wisebread.com Don’t Cash That Insurance Check; It May Not Be Yours http://www.wisebread.com/don-t-cash-that-insurance-check-it-may-not-be-yours <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/don-t-cash-that-insurance-check-it-may-not-be-yours" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/checkbook.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">Did you get an unexpected payment from your insurance company?<span> </span>Health insurance overpayments and mispayments make up for billions of dollars in wasted funds every year.<span> </span>And while the majority of the payments go directly from the insurance company to the medical provider (the doctor, hospital, ambulance service, etc.), there is still a large percentage of this money being paid to patients.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>How do I know that a check is mine?</strong> </p> <p class="MsoNormal">First of all, it is important to know the terms of your insurance contract before taking any action with the check.<span> </span>Some insurance policies (including many dental and self-employed health plans), require that the patient or policy-holder receive payment, and then the policy-holder will pay the physician.<span> </span>Contact the physician who provided services for the claim, and be sure that the account has been settled with the insurance company.<span> </span>If it hasn’t, you may own them this money. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">If you have already paid the service provider out of your own pocket, than the money may very well be yours.<span> </span>Compare the amount of the payment with any line item bills you initially received from the physician.<span> </span>Make sure that you received the correct amount you were due under the terms of your insurance contract before accepting payment by deposit into your bank account.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>What if I know this isn’t my money?</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal">If it’s not yours, don’t spend it!<span> </span>While insurance companies make millions and even billions of dollars a year in mistaken medical overpayments, that doesn’t justify theft or fraud.<span> </span>Contact your insurance company immediately to verify the mistake and arrange for the return of the check.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>What happens if I keep it?</strong> </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Your contract with the insurance company most likely requires that you willfully return any known overpayments.<span> </span>And while the statute of limitations on how long the insurer has to notify you varies by state (<a href="http://www.askleslie.net/Recoupment2a.pdf">see chart here</a>), once they have notified you of the overpayment, they usually have no limitation on how long to pursue repayment.<span> </span>Failure to repay may result in garnishment, legal action, and termination of your insurance policy and coverage.<span> </span>(It is also important to understand that insurance companies devote a great deal of resource to find and pursue overpayments.<span> </span>It is usually just a matter of time before they are made aware of the mistaken payment.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The reasons for medical overpayments are many.<span> </span>Whether it was a miscommunication between the doctor and insurance company, an error with dates of coverage, a change in the policy, or simply a processing error that resulted in you mistakenly receiving a check, the verdict is the same.<span> </span>Cashing any type of insurance check that doesn’t belong to you can result in a heap of trouble.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/don-t-cash-that-insurance-check-it-may-not-be-yours">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/uglify-your-stuff-to-keep-it-safe">Uglify Your Stuff To Keep It Safe</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/deposit-insurance-for-money-funds">Deposit insurance for money funds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/product-feedback-is-worth-your-time">Product Feedback Is Worth Your Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-facts-about-flooding-and-your-home">10 Surprising Facts About Flooding and Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-fall-for-these-common-obamacare-scams">Don&#039;t Fall for These Common Obamacare Scams</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Insurance check consumer payment Sun, 14 Oct 2007 11:33:25 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1284 at http://www.wisebread.com