Tuesday, February 20, 2007

When every penny counts

Our relatives laugh at the way we watch our money. "Just take care of the dollars, and the pennies will follow!" Of course, they are financial professionals, while my expertise comes from Dave Ramsey's radio show. Sometimes I doubt my own logic. Especially when I'm standing in a customer service line because the scanner has rung up more than the shelf tag. I do it, not only for the measly dime, but to protest those silent overcharges.

Today I heard an NPR story that energized my attention to detail. An Arkansas lawyer noticed that the trip to his grandmother's, which had taken 342 miles on one car, now took 352 in his Honda minivan. The result is a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Honda's inaccurate odometers. Honda must now extend owner's warranties and refund mileage charges to lease holders. Not because some government agency spotted the problem, but because one man noticed a difference of ten miles.

Many Americans would have dismissed ten miles as pocket change. Only in a country so rich can we blithely ignore the small numbers. Just think what we could accomplish by teaching our children the value of change. Twenty-six CENTS a day nourishes a hungry child around the world. $1.84 feeds the homeless in our own backyard. We mothers-on-budgets know that pennies matter--not just to us, but to those in need. Let's remember that next time someone smirks at our portfolios.

Recommended resource: Ellie Kay's Shop, Save, and Share teaches how to put smart couponing to work for charity. Check it out at your local library!

15 comments:

Denise said...

As a congressman once said "a million here, a million there, and pretty soon your talking about real money." I guess that attitude is one of the things wrong with our country.

Jenn said...

Meredith-on your first link you quote 342 as the mileage number for both vehicles. I think you meant to say 342 for one vehicle and 352 or 332 for the second one.

Meredith said...

Yes, thanks for catching that. I should not be allowed to type late at night with the baby!

Molly said...

It amazes me how many people just pay bills that come in the mail without actually reading and making sure that they reflect reality.

I had a friend laugh when I told her that I save all of my change, roll it once a month and put it in my savings account. She couldnlt be bothered to do that much work for change. I then told her how much money I saved last year from pennies and dimes. She wasn't laughing then.

Pennies do matter...

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

YES---pennies DO matter!

It is wasteful to not watch what you spend, even if you're a millionaire. My brother in law is getting married. The girl bought a $2,000 wedding gown. They CAN afford it. But really, is that being a good steward with our money, to spend $2000 on a dress you'll wear once?

We all need to be careful with money!

Anonymous said...

Meredith,

I am the ninth child of ten to parents, long deceased, who lived through the depression. Their mantra was "Take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves"! I have always tried to do that, although there have been relapses through the years. Thanks for such an enjoyable blog!

Lynn Marie said...

I can't get the Dave Ramsey radio show on the radio up here but I didn't know that I can listen to it on the computer - thanks I learn something all the time from you. I laughed when I read the lawyer noticed the difference in miles. What if it was Joe Citizen who noticed? Then Honda would have made up something to cover it up and no one would know. Thanks for the information.

aine said...

Molly is right. Checking bills each month can pay off. This month there was a $37.00 erroneous charge on our phone bill! It took a few minutes, but in the end I saved that money. I sure was glad that I had saved my previous receipts and took the time to check out something that didn't look right.

Chrissy said...

I love Shop, Save, and Share! It was one of the first books that fueled my desire to live more thriftily. I've read it a few times and always come away with something new.

devildogwife said...

My hubby and I were just talking about this the other night. Someone he works with never checks their credit card bill, and they were being charged for something (they "accidently" signed up for it). It took them 6 months to realize this because that was the first time checking the statement??? Yikes!

Most people don't bother to bend over and pick up a penny any more, but my daughter and I have no problems with that ;)

Anonymous said...

Every penny does count, the pennies add up to dollars. I always pick up the change I see on the ground. Like Molly said, I also roll my change, at nite I empty my wallet of all my change but .75, the rest goes in my bank, when I have enough I roll it and put it in my savings account. It really does add up.

Alison said...

Meredith, you might want to share this story with your relatives. I used to work as an assistant to a man who is a millionare many times over, both from inherited wealth and from his own business and investment dealings. He and his wife were moving and I was setting up the utilities at the new (approximately $3 million) house. He wanted a two-line answering machine that could also work with fax and modem but the equipment dealer told me that was not available, so I suggested to my boss that he use the phone company's voice mail service. When I told him the price, about $12 a month, he was aghast at paying $150 a year and having nothing tangible to show for it so he decided to make do with his old answering machine.

hsgbdmama said...

Thank you for the Honda story -- I'll be watching our mail since both our vehicles are included.

We watch our bills closely as well ... another thing that we take advantage of is "early pay" discounts -- our clinic has just started doing this (offering 10% off for paying within a certain number of days), and I put it on a credit card that pays 1% cash back (and gets paid off in full every month) ... it's an easy way to save some.

Copper's Wife said...

How timely! My FIL was just telling us yesterday that he always adds up his natural gas bill. For the last several years the charges always, always add up wrong, with the company overcharging him $5 - $8 every month! He always jots his computations onto the bill and sends it in with his amount on the check and they never have said a word. This is a HUGE utility and they are, more than likely, overcharging most of their customers to the tune of $5 - $8/month! Take a couple of minutes to add up those charges!!

Copper's Wife said...

I'm totally being a comment hog today ;-).....I just wanted to say that this 50 year old woman has always stooped to pick up pennies off the ground. A few years ago Copper and I went to a local discount movie house for our anniversary. When we went to buy our tickets, we were .02 short! No mercy at the box office, of course. As my husband rummaged under the seats of our car he found one penny, just as I came up with a penny off the ground a few spaces away!! Who says pennies don't count?!?!?!