Friday, July 18, 2003

George Mindling Column 7-18-2003

The Battle for Your Dollar


Have you opened a charge account at a major retailer lately? Have you checked your first bill to see the hidden 'cost of the "free" card'!

My wife recently received her very first bill on a brand new, “Value Add" charge card that offered dollar points on all card purchases. The bill was for $11, a $1 opening charge and a $10 late fee for not paying the opening charge! She had never used the card in the several weeks she had it and had not been informed of the charge on the "free" account! The thought of having her credit blemished because of a policy that borders on questionable ethics is not worth having the card. Needless to say, the card has been canceled.

Most people pay the dollar on their first bill if they have used the card and never notice the unannounced charge on the supposedly free charge account. It is only one of several minor ways to quietly, or even surreptitiously take your money without you even noticing.

Saving your money is an attitude! One dollar isn't going to bankrupt anyone, even though the late charge may damage your credit! Saving that dollar is a dollar earned. In today's environment, throwing money away is easy. It can slip through your fingers with incredible ease.
It wasn't uncommon to see women with little plastic clickers many years ago in most of the grocery stores, keeping a running tally on what went into the shopping cart. It was a good budget reminder and a great way to verify the cashier's total. Today's hurried housewife might look at that as frivolous, at best, but it was one way to monitor the money flow. Ever check to see if the cashier's scale is set to zero before weighing your fruit or produce? They have a pedal or level to zero the scale, it only takes a second. If you can't see the weight indicator, beware. A few ounces on each customer makes a nice daily total.

Florida Power and Light has a neat little service that may help find the fleeing dollars from your house air conditioner. FPL will do a vent and leak check of your house for a small charge. A recommended check if you plan to have your Ale upgraded or replaced, or if you can't seem to find why your house won't cool the way it should. Call FPL's customer service line at (800) 226-3545 for more details. FPL also offers an energy check to help spot the other energy areas to conserve power and save you money.
Double-check your telephone bill for more little drains on your pocket book. The feature called line guard is around $5 a month and double if you have two numbers. If you need it. fine, but if you don't. remove it from your charges.

Winning the battle for your dollar starts with remembering how hard you worked to win it in the first place.

George Mindling © 2003


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