Friday, May 14, 2010

How I Saved Our Family $1000 This Week....

I knew that title would get your attention!

(The other possibility was "Why Dave Ramsey Would Be Proud of Me. I figured the first one would get more attention.)

I was able to save our family $1000 this week, all thanks to the fine art of realizing "No" is not good enough.

A couple of weeks ago, Buddy noticed that my car was leaking something that appeared to be oil, but wasn't. It was coming from a part of my car that he couldn't identify, and neither could his dad. To make a long story short, I discovered it was the "front end hydraulic mount" for my engine. I went by the Mazda dealership where we purchased the car (brand new, by the way) back in 2007. I was panicking, since I knew my 36k warranty had technically run out. I'm at 38k, but the 3 years isn't up until August. After speaking with the service guy, I explained to him that my warranty was on the cusp of being over....was there anything he could do to help me. He went in to talk to his supervisor, and low and behold, I had a "Power Train warranty" that covers anything related to the engine, for 5 years, or 60,000 miles! I didn't even realize I had that warranty!

Three days later, while driving around town, we noticed smoke coming from under the hood of my car. A terrible noise was happening as well. The noise stopped as soon as we turned of the air conditioner. We went back to Mazda, only to discover that the air compressor had completely seized, and was shooting sparks. Ugh. I knew this would have been covered under the regular warranty, which I just mentioned had "run out." The service manager was not in, but I got an estimate of over $700 to fix the problem. I called and spoke to her when she returned and explained to her about the warranty issue. Surprisingly, she agreed to pay for the new air compressor, if we would pay for the labor costs. The part was more expensive, so we got a good deal there!

Today, Buddy was using one of his power tools and heard a strange sound. Then the tool quit working properly. He had recently purchased this tool, so we took it tonight back to the store where we bought it. After speaking to the guy in charge of power tools, we found out that there was a "30 day" return policy and of course, we were over by a few days. He said that the store could not exchange it, but we would have to take it to the closest manufacture warranty center, 30 minutes away, to have it fixed. I showed the back of my receipt to the girl at the service counter. The receipt said 90 days to exchange "if unsatisfied for any reason". The 30 day policy did not mention the item we bought. After speaking to the store manager, explaining my frustration over the policy, and explaining that the brand of tool we bought should not have broken down this soon, I asked if there was any way he could help us. He agreed to completely exchange the tool for a brand new one!

So, let me break this down.

Front End Hydraulic Mount.....over $400, covered by a warranty.

New Air Compressor....part cost almost $400, covered by dealer.

Replacement of a power tool.....$250, replaced by store manager.

While I had to pay for labor on my car, all total we saved almost $1000 this week, simply because I wouldn't take NO for an answer. If you know me in real life, you know that confrontation is not my thing. I'm not always assertive, and can actually come across as a little shy in certain situations. I'll be honest, each of these times I "stood my ground", my heart was pounding in my chest the whole time. But I politely explained my situation and each time, the Lord worked out the problem, thus helping my family save money.

And yes, Dave Ramsey would probably be proud of me. But what makes me happiest was how proud my husband was of me. He thanked me several times tonight for talking to the manager and getting his tool replaced. He told me several times over the past week how proud he was of me getting the car taken care of. Having my husband being proud of me makes me one happy girl!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Putting the advertising to the test

I am not a tree hugger, nor am I a crazy, obsessed "Save the Planet" person. But I do what I can to conserve and recycle. I've always been interested in different ways to recycle and got my family involved in recycling when I was in 5th grade. I read a book about ways kids could save the Earth, and we started recycling paper, plastics, aluminum and glass. Buddy and I still do this, but we have to take the recycling ourselves. We don't live in the city limits, so we don't get recycling pick-up. (And I have to drive over 20 minutes to the recycling center in my county, despite the fact that I live about 5-10 minutes from the recycling center in the neighboring county....go figure.)

Over the weekend, Buddy bought a bag of SunChips. I noticed that the packaging looked a little different than the last time we bought this kind of snack. We looked over the bag and realized they had changed the packaging because they have a new bag that they claim is biodegradable. If you put the empty bag in a compost pile, it will supposedly disintegrate after 13-14 weeks. After we read this, I looked at Buddy and he looked at me. I could tell we were both thinking the same thing.....

Let's try it!

So here I am with the SunChips bag.

We've got a pile of yard clippings from where we cut the grass, so we decided to use that as our "compost" pile. I'm not sure if it will work exactly, but when we scooped some of the clippings out of the way, I was surprised at how much heat was there.

Then we covered the bag up with the clippings. I'm just dying to see if this will actually work! If it does, then I hope other companies will consider using this material for their packaging as well.

The packaging showed (simulated) pictures of what the bag should look like at 3 weeks, 9 weeks, and 13 weeks. We buried the bag on Sunday night (May 2nd). Week 13 just happens to fall on Buddy's birthday (August 1st). I will post updates at week 3, week 9, and week 13. Let's see what happens when we put the advertising to the test! This will be interesting to see what happens.