Personal Finance Weapons of Mass Destruction: Being Unprepared

Have you ever been in a meeting and someone asked a question that you couldn’t answer?  Being put on the spot when unprepared feels awful.  In other parts of our life we end up spending money to get out of the situation.  I’m not talking about being unprepared for retirement, although being unprepared at the each step before then will not bode well for your retirement either.  Before you get confused, let’s see some examples.

Food

If you woke up late you may not have time for breakfast which means you will likely end up buying breakfast at a drive-through.  Then at night, when you get home you realize that you don’t have groceries and decide to order pizza.  If you took steps to prepare ahead of time you could save money on food and have a healthier lifestyle as well.

Beverages are the same way.  If you are walking around thirsty you may end up buying a bottle of water for $3.  If you planned ahead and grabbed a bottle you could save your money.  And even better, if you had a reusable container then the cost is essentially free.

Travel

Travel is fun, but it can get costly.  If you wait to book your vacations you could end up paying more for tickets.  Hotel prices also go up.  Hopefully you can pay a lot less on your airfare and hotel now that I have shared the secrets.  However, the longer you wait the fewer award seats will be available and often the saver tickets disappear meaning you’ll need to spend more points.  American and United also charge $75 award booking fees if you book within 21 days.

I don’t always have solid itinerary when I travel, but I like to see if there are certain days or times when things are free.  A little planning can get you into museums for free and find cheaper tours ahead of time.  I paid $5 to get into the American Museum of Natural History.

I was living in Portugal from January to May and found out that sunscreen costs a fortune.  Yet, when I returned last week I forgot to buy some which meant I need to spend $24 for a small bottle!  Ironic because sunscreen is a way to prepare against sun damage.

Negotiations

If you walk into a car dealership without a plan you could drive out with something way more expensive than you should have got.  The reason is because without research you won’t know if you are getting a good or bad deal.  Additionally, you may go for options you didn’t need like more power, heated seats, and powered windows!

When you are interviewing for a job also be prepared for a question asking for your salary expectations.  If you haven’t done any research you may say $5,000 more than you currently make, but that would be a big mistake if the market rate was really $20,000 more.

Insurance

Insurance allows you to prepare for the unexpected.  You don’t know when you will get sick, crash you car, or burn down your house, but you can buy insurance in case those things happen.  Insurance is a form of preparation that will cost you money but reduce the risk of being financially wiped out and give you peace of mind.  I could never drive knowing that I would have to pay the entire amount if I crashed into someone.  Ok, one time I did with a Uhaul and it was more frightening than gambling.  I make sure to get lots of coverage because problems end up so costly and I would hate for an already big problem to get even worse by evolving into a financial one as well.

Conclusion

It costs a lot to be unprepared, so take the time to figure out what you need before you go somewhere or do something.  In the modern world so many businesses have been developed to allow us to be lazy.  We can use an app to summon just about anything on demand.  However, plan ahead and save your money, it will add up quickly.

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