Saturday, September 5

Accidental savings

There's nothing that makes you feel quite so frugal as stumbling into a fabulous deal. I'm never quite sure why. Sure, plenty of planning and crafty use of coupons and sales can result in some triumphant savings. But there's always a bit of an added rush when you find a great deal purely by accident.

I've always wondered why this is. My theory is that it just makes you feel like all your frugal stars are aligning -- that every part of your life is now attracted to the magnetism that is frugality. But maybe it's simply that we are thrilled by anything that makes us feel lucky. It doesn't have to be big, either. Just finding a penny on the ground (or in a Coinstar machine) can keep me in a good mood for an hour or more. Guess I'm easily amused.

All this simply goes to explain why I've been pleased as punch with myself since Monday, when I secured a great deal with Qwest.

Thanks to the stress of trying to work and pack and get ready to leave town, I had procrastinated about turning off our basic services like TV and phone. By the time I remembered this, it was the Saturday before we moved and, apparently, Qwest doesn't do weekends.

That's how I ended up calling to cancel our telephone service around 3 p.m. on the day that we were leaving. Oops.

At that point, I was beyond ragged. I'd been been in moving (aka stress) mode for over a month, packing mode for over 2 weeks and had been cleaning since 9 that morning. I was barely coherent.

So when I called Qwest, I wasn't as firm as I perhaps normally would have been. Turns out, that worked in my favor. First, the man offered to transfer our service for free -- normally $30. It was tempting, but I declined. We were just going to use cell phones.

Then the "loyalty" representative noted that we were on a telephone savings plan. He offered me 5 months at half-off. Given that we current pay about $10-12 after taxes, I decided it was worth trying out. After all, if we decided once we were down there that we needed a landline, we'd have to pay the $30 connection fee.

Once he had sold me on that, he moved to DSL service. I am a staunch cable modem gal, and said that, for my work, I needed speeds faster than what DSL offers. He then pointed out to me that cable speed is based on users, so the speeds I was being quoted were tentative, at best. He also quoted me a price about half of what I'd have to pay for broadband. Between those facts and the exhaustion, I decided I'd try it before rejecting it.

I told him okay. After all, if it didn't work out, I could just cancel, right? Uh, no. There was a 2-year contract for that promotion. Even through the haze of severe fatigue, my reaction was practically knee-jerk. No, not interested. Not signing a 2-year agreement.

And wouldn't ya know it? His manager just happened to be right there and was giving him the OK to waive the contract. How fortuitous! Especially since his manager -- without being on the call -- seemed to magically know what we were talking about. Whatever. I got out of signing a contract.

There was one wrinkle: telephone assistance. We won't qualify for it in Arizona. Income limits are lower down there. That worked to my advantage, though. The rep changed the offer from 5 months at half off to 3 months completely free.

So now we're paying $0 to get the landline installed, $0 for the first three months while we decide if we want a landline and $25 for DSL ($37 after the first year). Of course, we'll probably downgrade to a basic phone line after the first three months -- assuming we keep the landline at all.

Even if we didn't change anything though, for the first year our phone and DSL total would be about the same as I was going to have to pay for broadband. So, all in all, I'd say I made a pretty good deal. Especially considering that I was having trouble forming sentences, let alone brokering a deal.

What is the best accidental savings you've ever experienced?



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