America calling

Posted July 25th, 2005 by Penny Wise

Looks like I am getting back on track after last week's guilty splurge - in fact, I'm feeling quite proud of myself again! I haven't filled up my car with petrol now for EIGHT days, which must surely be a record, particularly as my new car has a petrol tank half the size of the old one. In fact, for four days out of the last week I didn't set foot in my car at all, which means I spent no money on those days either! I also had a pleasant surprise when I received this month's power bill too. I was expecting a 'biggie' and took a deep breath before opening it, to find it was half the amount we would normally have to cough up for this time of year. It just goes to show that my obsessive light switch monitoring and tumble dryer ban has really paid off. I can cope with the clothes racks draped all over my office with those kind of savings! Even the pets are getting involved; I keep cursing at Angel the cat for constantly hopping on the dehumidifier and turning it off, but she has probably made a significant contribution to the power savings!

This week I also changed my Internet Service Provider and from now on will be saving $22 per month on my Internet charges! One of the things I love about going through the Simple Savings hints is that often they show how much of a saving one particular change will amount to over a year, which I had never thought of before. It really puts things into perspective and shows how those few dollars add up. Before, I wouldn't have worried too much about paying $22 more per month, as I was quite happy with my Internet charges - but by changing providers I will now be $264 better off a year, just with a single phone call!

Ali's birthday was also last week, and a very enjoyable day was had by all. For the first time since the boys were babies, I looked around at the presents I had bought him and didn't cringe at how much I had spent, stress over the credit card statement or think 'Heck, I bought way too much' - I got it right! We had a 'non-party' as I called it, consisting of three packets of potato chips, two packets of Mallow Puffs and cordial placed in various 'refill stations' around the house. My creative Happy Hanna friend made a brilliant birthday cake and ten boisterous friends careered around the house and garden for three hours making their own fun. So much less stressful than last year's carefully orchestrated party, and so much cheaper too!

Considering it had been such a successful week for saving and spending, who would have thought I would then go on to effortlessly agree to part with several thousands of dollars during the course of a telephone call? It was all quite surreal really, let me explain! Somewhat bemused, I answered the phone to a friendly American voice, who told me she had my mother on the line. I wondered why on earth Mum hadn't phoned me from her own house, especially as I had already seen her not an hour before! The woman went on to tell me that Mum had won a trip for four to Florida for six days, followed by a three day cruise to the Bahamas, and would I be interested in going with her? As you can imagine, I turned it down flat - NOT! Mum reminded me of an incident she told me about several months ago, when she was playing on a children's activity website with Liam and a pop-up appeared on the screen to tell her she was the lucky winner of a fantastic holiday. As usual, she clicked to get rid of it, but it kept coming back, assuring her it was a genuine prize and why wasn't she interested? She typed in 'heard it all before, too good to be true' or words to that effect. Another screen opened up and assured her once more that this was perfectly legitimate and that if she entered her details, someone would contact her in a few weeks. I had to admit at the time it was a bit different to the usual pop-ups, but we both promptly forgot about it and the weeks went by.

So you can imagine our surprise when she really did receive the call! To cut a long story short, the holiday was indeed legitimate, but she had not actually 'won a free trip', rather a hugely discounted holiday. It transpired that the trip I had agreed to accompany her on would actually cost $900 USD in total, for our group of four. After some quick deliberation, we agreed - what the heck, let's do it! After all, the kids had dreamed of going to Disneyworld (I had been there when I was 17 and they had seen the photos) and now I would be able to take them there, for just $900! Then we found that the $900 'total' was not including air fares - hmm... oh well, we'd find the money somehow; how could we turn down a cruise to the Bahamas? The trip also did not include food or airport tax costs, and then they told us about our 'only' other obligation, which was to agree to spend one morning of our dream holiday attending a presentation by their company on timeshares in Orlando. A small inconvenience perhaps, but by now we were so pumped thanks to the excited voice on the other end of the line, that we were ready to agree to just about anything to get our hands on our wonderful 'prize'!

I bounced around the house for the rest of the day and couldn't wait for Noel to come home so I could tell him about Mum's fantastic prize. I could see his eyebrows arch bit by bit as I relayed the tale, casually dropping in the $900 part, and he had developed a full blown belly laugh by the time I got around to adding the air fares. He got on the Internet, and shopped around all the airlines for flights to Orlando before calmly telling me that there was no way that we were going to part with almost $5,000 in airfares alone to send me and the boys on holiday! By then, the irony of it all was beginning to dawn on me - these people had managed to successfully talk Mum and me into parting with thousands of dollars, just so we could attend one of their timeshare seminars. All it took these cunning marketers was a ten minute phone call. I had to break the news to two very disgruntled little boys that we were no longer going on our free trip to Disneyworld because it was too expensive! You can imagine how daft I felt, can't you? Noel was still cracking up, 'So much for your Simple Savings dear, I think this time you were the simple one!'

Want to comment? Become a Simple Savings member »

January 2015

December 2014

March 2014

December 2011