Sometimes I go to bed thinking how good life is. From the joys of breathing in clean air to the freedom of making money anywhere there’s internet access, life is pretty great. Sometimes I even go far as to think I’m rich. But then reality smacks me in the face.
Since I turned 40, we’ve been proactively trying to figure out ways to use money to improve our lifestyles. We finally tried out professional cleaners after spending the last 19 years cleaning up after ourselves. So worth it! We now frequently use food delivery apps to bring some of the best cuisine San Francisco has to offer right to our doorsteps. What a life saver after a long day’s work.
So when my iPhone case cracked after I dropped it one evening, it should have been no problem to spend $100 to fix the thing at an electronics shop down the street. They take walk-ins and their turnaround time is only 45 minutes. It’s the perfect amount of time to do some grocery shopping for the family or get a haircut next door. I used them once four years ago and was pleased.
But this time, I decided not to use them because embedded in my iPhone usage plan was a Apple Care policy that I had used once before. The $120 policy states that in case of a cracked screen, I can go to any Apple Store or certified dealer and fix it two times in a two year period. Each time I go, I still have to pay a $29 fee. In other words, if I’m fortunate or unfortunate enough to fix my iPhone twice in two years, the total cost is $120 + $29 + $29 = $178 or $89 for each fix.
The Endless Saga Begins
I went online to book myself an appointment at one of the Apple Stores closest to my house and the next available appointment was a week away. Even though I had major crackage that required me to tape the screen to prevent shards of glass from cutting my finger, I decided to wait a week and keep trying for a better time around the city. As a heavy phone user who is running a website, waiting a week is a big deal.
The next day I checked online again and was able to snag a 7:40pm spot at a store 5 miles away the very next day. Score! Given the Apple booking system said this was a same day turnaround and the store closed at 9pm, I figured it was worth going. When I got there, they told me that they couldn’t fix the phone in 1 hour 20 minutes and that I would have to leave my phone there overnight. No thank you. That was one hour of time lost.
Then I decided to go online again to see if I could get another appointment somewhere reasonably close by and found one in the city 10 minutes away from the high school where I was a high school coach. The appointment time was 2pm three days later and I had to go pick up the kids at 3:00pm for a 3:30pm match. When I dropped the phone off at 1:45pm, they said I could come back any time after 3pm to pick up my phone.
After getting some lunch, I drove to the high school, picked up some kids to drop to the courts at 3:10pm, drove back to the Apple Store at 3:20pm to pick up the phone as guided. Of course when I got there, they said they were running behind, and that I’d have to wait until 4pm or later to pick it up! Not wanting to be too late to a big match, I drove back to the courts by 3:45pm, coached the players to victory until 5:30pm and then drove back to the Apple Store to pick up my phone during rush hour.
Bottom line: My decision to use my paid for warranty and not just pay $100 to the electronics store 5 minutes away from my house wasted 2.5 hours of my life and gave me unnecessary stress and frustration. If I was rich, I would have without hesitation paid the $100. But instead, I took a gamble with customer support.
It’s Hard To Not Maximize What You Have
Just the stress of being late for the start of the tennis match because it took me 15 minutes to find parking would have been worth the $100. I missed the player and coaches introduction because of my tardiness. But I just couldn’t bring myself not to use my Apple Care warranty because I had already paid for it.
Having a warranty seldom makes sense for the consumer, which is why retailers and manufacturers love to sell them. Whenever I can use a warranty, I feel like I’m winning. When I got my phone, I didn’t want the warranty, but Apple was running some sort of special that included it so I acquiesced.
The other thing I hate is having unused inventory. For example, I started feeling completely wasteful living in a four bedroom, three and a half bathroom house in San Francisco with just my wife and I. The house could rent for $8,500+, a price we would never pay ourselves. Therefore, we rented out the house and downsized to a cozier three bedroom, two bathroom house. With the three of us now, it feels great to maximize the space in our home, especially since both of us are stay at home parents.
If I was rich and smart, I would have spent even more and gotten one of those mobile phone fixing companies to come by my house and fix it on the spot. Alas, I’m not rich enough to waste money or hold unused inventory. After a lifetime of frugality, old habits are hard to break.
Always Make Some Lemonade
Despite wasting an hour driving to and from the first Apple Store, I did some positive things like picking up my favorite burritos from next door to feed the family. I also spent time asking for some iCloud usage help that had been bothering me. Finally, I picked up a longer phone cable since my old one was frayed.
And of course, I’ve decided to share my story on Financial Samurai, which may help bring about new discussion, more traffic, and more advertising revenue. It’s nice to use Financial Samurai as an insurance policy against wasted time.
To conclude, here are some tips to consider:
* Never believe “same day service” even if it’s advertised in writing. Drop your item off at the store as early as possible so the technician has more time to fix it.
* Nobody is ever on time because there’s a lack of respect and operational efficiency in this world. Identify the people and organizations that are perpetually late and cut them out of your life.
* If you’ve got to go somewhere, figure out what else you can do while you’re there to make your trip more productive. Every time I go downtown to get my teeth cleaned, I reach out to one of my advertisers to see if they can take me out for some steak lunch and talk business.
* Figure out if you have more convenient alternatives and calculate the cost of your time and happiness. If your time and happiness is worth more than the alternative cost, spend the money. If you can’t get yourself to spend money to save time and minimize stress, this is when you know you are not yet rich.
Wealth Building Recommendations
Explore Real Estate Crowdfunding: If you don’t have the downpayment to buy a larger property, don’t want to tie up your liquidity in physical real estate and don’t want to deal with tenants, take a look at Fundrise, one of the largest real estate crowdsourcing companies today. Real estate crowdsourcing also allows you to be more flexible in your real estate investments by investing beyond just where you live for the best returns possible. I’m happy living in a right-sized house while investing excess capital in the heartland of America where rental yields are 4-5X higher.
Stay On Top Of Your Money: Sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying. After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms.