Do You Apply Knowledge and Make Decisions?

I recently reviewed the book I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, (and I am currently running a giveaway so enter to win your copy!)

I mentioned in the review that this was the most complete and best personal finance book I have ever read. The reason for that being the lessons in the book were structured so well that you could simply apply them right to your life without much modification. This really helps those that are indecisive.

After reading the book, I realized that in my own life there were areas that I was not acting even though I knew there were changes that needed to be made. So yesterday, I spent several hours just making decisions in my life and they all came with great results.

First, in the book there is a whole chapter on optimizing credit cards. By optimizing, I mean reducing fees, getting better rates and basically transitioning a credit card from something you are afraid to use because of the possibility of error, to a tool that you use as often as possible because the benefits outweigh any problems you may encounter.

I have a credit card that has a yearly fee. I have been delaying changing or canceling this card for years now because I have tons of rewards points racked up, and that gives me a feeling of accomplishment. But I am wasting money each year on this card, so spurred by that great book, I called up and spoke with a customer service rep for about 15 minutes. In that time she was able to get me onto a better card, save all my points I have earned and get a card for my wife (the previous card had a fee for additional cards). All in all, I was able to save about $20 a year, plus keep all my account history and points I have accumulated with a single phone call.

The next chapter in the book was about getting the most out of your bank. I have been banking with Chase for the past five years, originally Washington Mutual. When Washington Mutual was running things, I didn’t have too many complaints, but when Chase took over, fees structures changed, customer service went down hill, and I have just been bearing with the bank since 2008 trying to decide on a different bank to switch to.

This past weekend, my family and I went to the county fair and while we were there we coincidentally had to use an out of network ATM. The bank that owned the ATM charged us a fee plus we were hit with an additional fee from Chase. I have actually never used an out of network ATM in all the years I have been banking so this was a bit of a shock to me, but I had just read how to get out of these such fees so I called up my bank and just by standing my ground when the customer service rep told me no the first time, I was able to get the fee waived.

Then I decided I needed to follow Ramit’s 85% method (doing something 85% perfect now is better than doing nothing till the 100% perfect solution came along) so I opened an account with another bank, USAA Bank. I will review USAA in the coming days, but so far, I’m amazed at the difference and kicking myself for not doing it years ago. So long, Chase!

The real revelation here is that I thought I was on top of my finances and everything was in order. Even though I knew there were a few things I wasn’t fully satisfied with, I didn’t think there was anything I could do about them, which caused me to stop trying and just leave things as they were. This indecision cost me countless hours a year and several hundred dollars in the past couple years.

My point today is that even though I read personal finance advice every day, I don’t always apply what I read to my own life; I don’t even always see where the advice can be applied.

Is there anything in your life that you know needs changing but haven’t gotten around to changing it?

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2 People have left comments on this post

» Jon DeGroffNo Gravatar said: { Aug 18, 2010 - 02:08:37 }

Good stuff, Jesse!
So much of what we can accomplish in life is simply about making a decision and putting in a few minutes of work to get it. If we would all do this more on a daily basis, our lives would be much easier.
Great post!
My recent post Life Insurance- A Love Story

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks Jon, I'm still surprised at myself because I didn't even realize these things were a problem. Initially they stung, and then they just passed from memory. Not only do you need to make decisions, but you need to follow through! Thanks for your comment my friend

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