Recently, I was at one of my favorite pizza places in town (try the vegan ranch, seriously!). I dug out a filled-out punch card and so got one of the slices for free. I then paid for the remaining balance with a card that would earn airline miles (you don’t need a credit card for this).
I saved about $4 on pizza, and earned 73 Alaska miles, which I value at between $0.73 and $2.19.
To do this, I had to remember to get a stamp card, bring it with me, and use it at the appropriate times. I also needed to sign up for the mileage earning program and use the proper card.
These are all small things, but they can add up over time. Little decisions can grow and grow to move your own personal needle in big ways.
Because I truly believe that fortune favors the diligent.
Back in the dot-com days…
Years before, in the early days of high-speed internet, I got in on a promotion at Radio Shack. I could purchase a cable modem through Comcast and the @Home Network (anyone remember them?). They had a promotion where you could get $200 off the purchase of the cable modem via a rebate.
I had little money at the time, but this brought the purchase price down to about nothing, so I went in on it.
Have you ever sent in a rebate? If so, you know the first rule of the rebate offerer: stall, evade, and if all else fails, deny.
Reminds me of this, doesn’t it? (Skip to 2:34 if it doesn’t do it automatically.)
Rebates require you to cut out a precise piece of packaging, enter the precise information in a precise way, sent via a precise means to a precise address by a precise date. Failure to do any of these things and goodbye rebate.
I was ready for all this. I knew the drill.
What I wasn’t prepared for was that @Home was shortly to go out of business. (Now that’s a new tactic for denying a rebate!)
So this began a Kafkaesque nightmare of customer service calls. I would call @Home and was told that they weren’t responsible and that I should call Comcast. Comcast said they had nothing to do with it, and that I should call Radio Shack. Radio Shack said it was an @Home promotion.
And around and around it went. Most people would have given up. And that’s, of course, the plan.
But fortune favors the diligent. I kept records of all my calls, who I talked to, and what I was told.
And then I kept calling.
I was never mean or surly. That’s a quick trip to the bottom in the Chutes and Ladders game of life. Even people who are empowered will stonewall you if they feel defensive.
So I was very polite and friendly the entire time. “Hi! It’s me again! Remember me?”
Eventually—and I don’t recall which agency was ultimately responsible for the rebate—I was able to walk through the precise hoops necessary to get my rebate.
A corollary: polite persistence will get you almost anywhere.
How can you be diligent?
I could go on. I’m currently on a similar path with my mortgage company about removing Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) from my mortgage, a process that I expect to be at least as onerous as the cable modem rebate. Considering this is worth thousands of dollars to the mortgage company, I can see why they will stall, evade, and deny.
But I’m ready for them.
And as for you, for those who think that they “don’t have time” or “don’t have any interest” in keeping track of things, I urge you to reconsider. From finding free money to succeeding through the customer service labyrinth, the effort is worth it.
Developing the habit isn’t hard, but like all habits, it takes time. All it takes is to perennially ask the question: how can I take this situation and have it benefit me more? Or: how can I use some information now to benefit me later?
Sometimes the wins will be small, but getting into the habit will surely reap benefits that will benefit you over the course of your life.
But enough about me. Where has being diligent for you paid off?