Mar 22, 2010

One Reason I Budget (Janssen)

I know I'm a huge money nerd, but even I don't particularly enjoy budgeting. But I do love it that budgeting OFTEN saves me money that I would have spent completely by accident.

In November, we got new phones, sent in our rebates and ended up getting them for free. All was well. Until in February, when Bart opened up Mint.com to go over our monthly expenses and saw that our phone bill was $20.00 over the budgeted amount. What in the world?

We pulled up the bill and saw that for some reason our phones were connecting to the internet and we were getting charged for it. Since we weren't USING the internet, we weren't very interested in paying for it and we particulalry didn't like the idea that our phones were automatically connecting any time they got jostled or dropped (which, in my current pregnant condition, is an embarassing amount).

I pulled up the last three months of the phone bill and realized we'd been charged a few dollars in the months before for the same thing. I tallied it up to come up with an exact number ($31.28) and called Sprint.

I was on the phone about seven minutes, in which time I got through to an actual person, explained my problem, she credited my account $32 (yes! I MADE money), and switched off the phones' ability to connect to the internet so we wouldn't have the same problem again.

I know $32 is not huge money. But we could go out to dinner instead. We could pay for a big portion of the week's groceries. I could buy two pairs of shoes. It took Bart about 30 seconds to spot the problem and about ten minutes total for me to get the money back. I figure that meant I was making around $190 an hour - let me tell you, my time is certainly not too valuable for that kind of money!

I can't tell you how many errors I've caught because of careful records and good budgeting (most notably the time the bank sent us payment coupons for an $8,500 student loan we didn't actually take out, but that required more than ten minutes and thirty seconds to resolve). It's money we would have paid completely by mistake or by accident if we hadn't been paying attention.

Budgeting helps you catch mistakes or problems that are costing you money you could spend elsewhere, on something you'll enjoy far more than you'll even enjoy accidentally paying for internet access you didn't know you were using. And that's more than enough to motivate me.

3 comments:

Elizabeth said...

You have totally persuaded me that Mint is the best thing since sliced bread, and I tried to sign up and they don't support my bank! (The local credit union.) It's very annoying. See if you can fix that, would you?

Carly Jane said...

I did sign up (and am using) mint... I'm not sure I'm sold yet. I wish there was a place to list the items I've budgeted for in a specific category. About half way through the month I find myself wondering, "what was that $10 for again?" Whereas on paper, I always had a specific list of what each budgeted amount is for. I also don't like that it only updates once a day (not to mention that pending items at the bank can take a few days... so it all doesn't show up on my budget as quick as I'd like it). But all in all, it's working for us.

Alison Stewart said...

Could you just budget my money for me???? That would be awesome!....Hummm- that could be a business idea right there! You could not only probably save me lots of money...but, receive a paycheck for doing it...and still save me money!