It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve had some personal issues to deal with that have since been resolved. These past issues got me thinking about my next topic. For instance, I took a big hit in my taxes which resulted in no refund. Shortly after, I found out I needed to replace my furnace if I wanted to install a central air unit. A $2500 bill soon turned into $5500. To make matters worse I injured my back and incurred medical expenses on top of everything. This got me thinking of creative solutions to navigate these problems. Emergencies happen and they can put a serious dent in your bank account. In my opinion, here are five ways to save lots of money and reduce emergency expenses:
Get a 2nd Opinion
Every time you buy something, especially big-ticket items, get multiple quotes. Bid out the job and/or shop around at different web sites. For example, with my HVAC, I got an initial quote for an 80% efficient system at a price of $5500. This company tried to strongarm me to buy on the spot, saying my furnace would fail any day. They even tried to con me into thinking it was a good deal, claiming others would charge $7000. I bid out the job and got two more quotes around $6,000. The last contractor came in at $4200 for a 93% efficient system. Asking questions allowed me to turn a $6000 expense into a $4200 investment. The home now has central air and a much more efficient furnace.
The last contractor I spoke to happened to be one of my clients. Because he knew me, he likely gave me a better deal. By expanding your network, you can save an incredible amount of money. I’ve been told you want to make friends with a lawyer, accountant, and a doctor. When my back got injured, I was able to get medical advice by a friend who was a licensed physical therapist. My mistake, however, was not fully taking his advice. I instead went to my local doctor, thinking I could get some kind of drug to speed up healing. Instead I got no results, and a $400 bill full of erroneous charges. Initially following my friend’s advice on exercise and certain stretches would have saved me hundreds.
Everyone wants to take what you have, and they will exploit any and all weaknesses to do so. Therefore, it’s best to project an aura of strength and confidence. When someone takes advantage of you, call them out. Question every bill, every receipt, and every deceptive charge. My credit card and gas company tried charging late fees because they failed to send me statements. I fought hard and got the charges removed. I’m in the process of also fighting $400 of fraudulent medical expenses. Never back down and fight hard. You never know, you might just succeed.
I can’t stress this enough. Our healthcare system is an abomination. You’re lucky to get the care you need. Even if you do, medical facilities can charge whatever they want and bankrupt you in the process. Doctors and drug firms make money by treating symptoms, not causes. Making people healthy is simply not profitable! The best way to counter this is preventative, holistic medicine. That means frequent exercise, stress reduction, investments in herbal supplements, taking vitamins, and keeping a healthy diet. Doing so may result in hundreds of thousands in savings.
Teach Yourself to Say NO
We all have our hobbies. But sometimes these hobbies and spending habits consume us. For instance, how many times do you eat out every week? How many movies do you go see? Did you really need to buy that bottle of booze? If you have the impulse to spend money, question yourself. Does this really create value? Instead of spending $7 on McDonalds, learn to say no, and spend a little extra time preparing a healthy lunch. Before you see a movie, maybe look at reviews, and make sure it’s worth seeing. And if you want to buy booze, just don’t. Nothing good comes from drinking alcohol! So again, learn how to say no. Saying no often means saving money.
I’m in no way saying become a miser or a jerk. On the contrary, I’m saying making friends and building a network can go a long way. For the dark side of life, it’s important to be vigilant. Quality people can play a big role in creating value in life. And of course, staying healthy goes without saying. Doing so reduces the probability of dramatic medical expenses. Finally, it helps to act as a check & balance on oneself. If something isn’t creating value, learn to say no! Cutting down on these emergency expenses saves thousands in the long run and increases the probability of achieving one’s goals.