February 7, 2010

Tip of the day

Weigh the cost of services.  Performing a simple cost/benefit analysis might help you to decide if purchasing services or convenience items is worth it.

  • We purchase AAA each year.  Yes, there is a cost involved. You will pay at least $64 for a  year of AAA.  This cost is worth it for us.  Last year was a big travel year for us, we saved money off of each hotel stay with AAA.  We used the service to unlock car doors 2 times.  We used the towing service another 2 times.  We used the discount at Landry’s Seafood Restaurant when traveling through Louisiana.  When visiting touristy types of places, I often ask if they give AAA discounts—you’d be surprised at how many do!
  • I purchase a yearly membership to NASW, the national professional organization for social workers.  Many perks come with this membership, the most important to me being an ability to have free continuing education classes on line.  (When you have a license with the state, you have a certain amount of required classes each year, depending on what kind of license you have).  The cost of the classes helps absorb the cost of the membership.
  • DIY projects—we do many simple DIY projects ourselves.  There are other times when we choose to hire out work or at least part of the work.  We base this on difficulty of the project, time that the project will take, price of the service vs price of doing it ourselves, and if any of the work will need to be up to code.  Even when we hire out projects, we often do part ourselves.  Hubby delivered our rug when we had it cleaned.  When our basement flooded years ago and we needed to re-do the bathroom, we bought all of the fixtures, tile, cabinets, etc to save money.  (The alternative would be to pay people to pick up these items for us).
  • Maintenance.  We do almost all of our own maintenance.  We clean our home, change the oil in the cars, mow the lawn, cook almost all of our meals, etc.  Almost all of these chores are done because we feel good about accomplishing these tasks.  I won’t say that Hubby always likes changing the oil in the cars but he does get a lot of satisfaction out of doing so.  We’d rather spend the money that we might use to hire out these services on something else.  Yet, there are times when these services are worth purchasing or bartering for.  When I was working full time I found that having the house cleaned one time a year by Merry Maids really helped me to get the house deep cleaned.  When we had back to back trips out of town and a jam packed work week, we took the car to Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed.  I needed a hem repaired, and a friend and I bartered some homemade jam in return for the mending work. 

If you pay for services or convenience items, get your money’s worth.  Would you go to the Holiday Inn and not use those cute little shampoos or lotions?  Take advantage of the full experience whenever you can, especially if you are already paying for it!


  1. i used to purchase the nasw membership and i have stopped. i really enjoyed the classes and i have been thinking of signing up again.

  2. Great picture, very cheerful!

  3. You can go by the AAA office for $1 off milk and bread coupons (at Food City). They also give discounts on movie tickets at Regal Cinemas. When I called for more info, they told me tickets must be purchased at the AAA office & it is $2-3 off per ticket. I haven't tried this yet, but it might make for a more frugal date night. Other AAA discounts include savings at Payless shoes, CVS photo finishing (TN only), Target.com and Kohls.com.