Hooray for the Bill Payment Scheme! When doing my bills this month, I realised that my phone provider had overcharged me by almost $30. If I hadn't been using the Bill Payment Scheme, I would have had no way of proving it, but because I had been keeping such foolproof records, I was able to track down exactly what I was looking for and demand a credit. Before Simple Savings, even if I had spotted the error, I would probably have just let it go - talk about throwing money away! But something that has really surprised me lately about my Simple Savings journey is my change of attitude - and I don't mean just towards finances, but towards everything. Apart from the obvious savings benefits that I have learned by the truckload, I have learned an important new skill that I never possessed before - I have learned the art of being assertive! In previous blog entries I have mentioned my unwillingness to stand up for myself, or to demand what is due, but somehow Penny the meek and mild has been replaced by Penny the crusader!
I never would have believed it, and neither would Noel, but it's true. I have become a person who makes phone calls and writes letters, instead of paying for other peoples' mistakes and overestimates without saying a word. Getting my $30 back on the phone bill took just a few minutes and it was so easy, but writing to the Breast Clinic has definitely been the most rewarding so far. I couldn't believe it last week when a letter arrived from them, embellished with a fluorescent orange sticker shouting 'IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED'. I had never been told that I would have to pay for the examination, I was led to believe it was a free referral. I was not told of this prior to or even on the day of my consultation (if that's what you could call it) and was not sent any invoices at all until this one telling me I was grossly overdue on paying the $100 I never knew I was supposed to part with. 'Why should you take immediate action with their payment when they didn't take any kind of action with your lump?!' asked Noel indignantly. 'You write to them and give them a blast!'
So I did! I told them that I had they had not informed me of having to pay for the consultation, no doubt because the receptionists and radiographer were too busy arguing loudly among themselves what to do with me (which I could see and hear from my position in the waiting room - not a good look) and couldn't shove me out the door fast enough. I also reasoned with them that I had been referred for what my doctor had considered two necessary procedures, and as only half the referral had been carried out, without any due consideration or explanation being offered, I in turn was only going to pay half their bill. Whether this will be the last I hear or if I will still be made to cough up the extra $50 remains to be seen, but I felt a darn sight better for letting them know how unprofessional they had been. Before, this would not have been something I would have had the nerve to carry out., but after reading thousands of Simple Savings hints, I have been encouraged and inspired by other people, not to take things lying down and to make sure we get what we're entitled to. For many people I know this is second nature, but there are a lot of us out there that are just not like that, so every little step is an achievement to be proud of.
Another issue we are dealing with at the moment is school uniforms. Our country primary school has less than 100 pupils and has never required its students to wear a uniform, but all of a sudden the powers that be have decided it might be a good idea and have asked all parents to vote. If they had asked six months ago, I would have thought 'That's nice, they'll all look smart!' but my Simple Savings knowledge has taught me to look at the big picture. I can see from some of the hints on uniform savings how school uniform costs can cripple families' budgets and plenty of families at our school are no different. Some families will have four or five children to outfit with new uniforms, there will be no seconds or hand-me-downs available. These parents will have to spend $140 on school t-shirts alone! The uniform issue has caused great debates between parents, so it will be interesting to see what the outcome is. I am fortunate in that we only have two children to buy for, but I would hate to see the financial strain it could put on other families. When I submitted my vote (a great big NO), I included pages of hints I had printed out from the Savings Vault on the subject, so the decision makers could see the innovative ways that some parents found necessary to be able to cover the cost of their children's uniforms each year. Whatever the outcome, I hope it will at least make them think.