Life in Transition

Navigating Personal Finances During Life Transitions

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Sometimes we take shortcuts just to save a little money.  This past week, my fiance was penny wise, pound foolish.

Last Friday, he called me at work to vent a little bit.  He was a little frustrated at his new boss.  Even though he accepted his RA position in February, his boss waited until last Friday to tell him that he needed to turn in his payroll documents the following Monday.  In order for him to turn in his payroll documents, he needed to have his orginal social security card.  Unfortunately, my fiance’s social security card was at his parents’ house, which was an hour and a half away.  He could have gone home over the weekend to pick it up and visit his family, but he had three final exams on Monday and two on Tuesday.  So, he called his parents to ask them to overnight his social security card and offered to pay them back.  Overall, he spent $5 on postage.  He checked the mail on Saturday; no social security card.  He checked again on Monday and Tuesday, still no card.  At this point it looks like it is lost in the mail.  He made a few mistakes to save a little bit of money:

  1. He used the US postal service.  It’s pretty common knowlege that USPS is less realiable than UPS or FedEx. 
  2. He didn’t want to spend an extra $7 to guarentee overnight delivery.  I’m not sure why USPS has an option to mail something overnight, but not guarentee delivery in the proper time window. 
  3. He didn’t pay extra number for a tracking number.  Now we have no idea where it is; his social security card could be anywhere.

So what were the consequences of trying save a little bit of extra cash?  The immediate consquence is that he couldn’t get his payroll paperwork in time, so he may not be able to start working or get paid right away.  I’m not quite sure how much that will cost us. The long term consequence is the possibility of ID theft, and the headache of dealing with that down the road.

Knowing myself, I would have proabably done the same thing to save a little bit of money.  We’ve learned our lesson.  Next time we have to mail an important document we will pay the extra money to get guarenteed overnight and to get a tracking number and delivery confirmation.

Have you ever been penny wise but pound foolish? What consequences of trying to save a little bit of money?

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3 thoughts on “Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

  1. I do this ALL the time and I have regretted it in the past when it came back to bite me in the butt. You know how the only thing the USPS gives you is a delivery confirmation number? Yeah, it’s only like 75 cents or so! Well when I was selling stuff on ebay, I would be so cheap just to save on shipping costs that I would end up not getting delivery confirmation… one package got lost and of course I didn’t have a tracking number. Worst decision ever, because now (and thank goodness they didn’t have this back then) you can easily file a claim on ebay and most of the time the customer will get their money back, and ebay will take money out of your paypal account if the customer did not receive their item and there is no proof of delivery.

  2. AverageJoe on said:

    It seems like such a small deal, but people make these mistakes on bigger levels when evaluating insurances. People say “I don’t need disability coverage…I’m a safe skiier.”

    I usually go the other way: I’ll spend too much money insuring that everything goes okay, then find out that I overreacted.

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