This week’s lesson comes at the beginning of the article: Be careful whom you listen to when making decisions about your money and how you spend it. Yes, this implicates me as someone to be wary of, and it should — after all, I’m not in your wallet. I can tell you what’s worked for me and what general best practices are, but I can’t definitively tell you what’s right for you and your lifestyle.
And while I may be suspect as a financial advisor, one thing I can certainly tell you is when someone claiming to know what they’re doing lays out recommendations that are unwise or ridiculous. About five minutes ago, in pursuit of an article that would inspire my blog’s Fiscal Friday, I can came across a piece on Yahoo! Finance that about made me fall out of my chair.
While a few of the money-saving ideas are good ones — cutting out premium cable packages, eliminating bank fees, etc. — some of them are a clear illustration that someone was just looking for article fodder and wasn’t thinking about the best interests of the people involved.
"Increase your auto insurance deductible ... Two months of savings = $108." This recommendation right here is my number one objection to this article. Please, please don’t do this. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive because I was just in an accident, but crap happens.
Sure, you can go ten years paying for insurance that you never have to use, and god knows I hope that’s the case. But you know what? Your brakes can give out in rush hour on a highway three weeks after your car passes a state inspection at the dealership.
This can cost you, as it did me, upwards of $6,000 in body and mechanical repairs. And then, for the sake of saving yourself barely over $50 a month, you’ve set yourself up to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 when crap gets real.
"Drop your land line ... Two months savings = $80." This isn’t tough. Instead of bundling your phone and other services together with a company that cheats you, get Vonage, Magic Jack, or some other alternative service.
Even if you don’t want to go that route, you might want to consider shopping for better prices instead of kicking the land line altogether.
After all, when natural disasters and emergencies happen, lights often go out, cell towers can black out or get overloaded, and if you have no other mode of contact, you’re left helpless or begging your neighbor to use HER phone.
"Buy regular, not premium, gas . . . Two months of savings = $16 (for filling up twice a month)." Oh, for the love of all that’s holy! A) This is a minimal savings, and B) I may not be a car person, but I can tell you that putting regular gasoline in your pretty, pretty sports car will kill your engine. It’ll run rough, and then it’ll die and you’ll have to pay WAY more in repair bills than you saved at the pump. You’d be better off feeding your baby the fuel it requires and altering your driving habits to save money. Or, if you’re in the market, look at getting a hybrid or a sedan with low MPG.