Prices Down, Customer Service Up?

The housing market is not the only place we are seeing prices slashed.  With consumer’s purse strings so tight and competition for our money so thick, businesses are being forced to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

We recently went vehicle shopping.  I got my super duper Jeep Cherokee for a song in December.  It was a 2008 model and had all kinds of rebates on top of Hubby’s Chrysler employee discount.  But with Hubby’s truck lease ending in March we were starting to sweat.  If you have shopped for a truck lately you will know that prices and payments are HIGH!  We were having sticker shock going from lease pricing to purchase pricing to begin with, but with everything compatible to what Hubs had before being priced at $40,000 and higher we just did not see how we could buy another Big Ram so my dear hunting/gathering/hauling husband was preparing for life with what he could afford, a car instead of a truck.

But guess what!  March is TRUCK month at Chrysler! We just got that same $40,000 truck for $27,000.  How amazing is that?  I will tell you how amazing it is… the payment is almost HALF of what we were quoted in January!  Hot diggety!  Why?  There is a lot of competition out there so car manufacturers have to be competitive.  So if a Big Ram is your cup of tea, NOW is the time to buy!

Not car shopping?  How about eating?  Last week we went to our neighborhood Applebees.  We have been there a zillion times.  But the service this time was on a whole different level.  Not that it was bad before, but our server and the manager were so attentive and made sure we had whatever we needed at all times.  Our iced tea never went dry.  Our chips never ran out.  We felt like VIPs.  I would think it’s more difficult to cut prices at a restaurant and compete that way, so I have to think that Applebees, and anyone else who is smart, knows that customer service is the way to win people over right now so that they see additional value in spending their money on dinner out.

We also just changed our insurance policies.  When is the last time you shopped around for term life insurance rates?  Or car insurance?  Cutting back on luxuries and clipping coupons is a good place to start finding extra money in your wallet, but with a few phone calls or internet browsing you might find better prices on everything from insurance to phone service.

Dropping prices in this economy is not any big shocker, but the positive change in customer service is a nice treat.  Has anyone else noticed receiving better treatment at the businesses they frequent?  And how much of an effect does service have on your decision where to spend your hard earned money?

Family Finances: Life Insurance

Well I am definitely going out of my comfort zone here.  I am a money spender, not a saver.  I am young I plan to live forever and take care of my family. Why spend hundreds of dollars a month on life insurance?

I am turning 40 in December.  That’s not really that young.  I am excited for the “wisdom”, “patience”, and “simplicity” that I have always imagined 40 would bring me, but if I am embracing it, I have to also embrace the fact that I AM aging.

This new decade that is in my horizon, along with this monumental election and tough economy have turned me into a different kind of person.  I opened a new savings account with a credit union this week and hope to one day make a deposit into it. (baby steps!) :-)  I no longer consider “frugal” to be a “f” word.  And this year while Hubby is gone hunting, instead of picking a large project to do do in the house I am cleaning out the basement and getting rid of HALF of the clutter.  I’ll show you pictures.  I am also diving into our family finances.

If something happened to either my Hubby or myself, the other would have a hard time sorting out what bills and assets have been left behind. Neither of us is savvy when it comes to insurance so it is my goal to gather info and have some scenarios in hand when the Great Hunter returns. :-)

How does a person know how to start a big project like that that is so far out of her area of expterise?  She googles, of course!  Then looks up Suze Orman clips on You Tube.  I learned from Suze that life insurance was never intended to be a permanent part of your portfolio!  It was meant for protection when you are young before your retirement and other assets kick in later in life.  But insurance companies will advise you to buy all sorts of things that you don’t need, that waste your money that you could be investing in your retirement. I’m going to attach the short clip that got my attention and gave me some direction. Basically Suze said to avoid hundreds of dollars a month spent on whole life insurance because you will get your best life insurance rates and the best use of your money by buying only term life insurance plans.

As important as all this financial stuff is, I don’t want to leave on such a serious tone.  So in addition to the Suze Orman clip I am going to find a SNL SPOOF of Suze.  Kristen Wii’s recurring Orman character is one of my favorite bits!

To summarize… Simplify. Laugh. Invest.