Are You Fiscally Negligent? Did Netflix Cancel You Because You Never Swapped Movies?

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in Budget,Frugality,Savings

Oh Netflix not you too!

Oh Netflix not you too!

I’ve done a variety of things to sabotage my own budget so much so that I wanted to share them here as not really savings tips but more like financial penalty avoidance (FPA). There’s your new acronym for the week. I have so many that I just might need to make this a regular series. When you look at the potential expenses you could literally save hundreds a year by avoiding these traps so take this as an opportunity to learn from my mistakes.  Or….maybe you are hyper disciplined, then you can just sit back and laugh at my folly.

These are all true stories, but for the record I would like to say that since my family has been headed on our new financial path we have headed off most of these roadblocks. Or at least I now notice them and can re-mediate the issues.

FPA Entertainment Edition

So as to not drone on for thousands of words we’ll focus on Entertainment for this post starting with my Achilles heal.

Video Rentals

I will be honest, there are few rental places left within a 10 mile radius of my home that I can actually patronize anymore. The amount of late fees I have racked up have paid for many of their new releases. I seem to be wired in such a manner that I have video rental amnesia for weeks on end. What? I rented Band of Brothers Disc 3 over 2 weeks ago? Oh right. I’ve had to stop altogether, for our budgets sake, not to mention the store bans. In a year I could easily amass over $100 in late fees.

Have you Tried Netflix?

As a matter a fact I have tried Netflix. Twice. They have cancelled my account twice. Why would Netflix cancel your account you ask? Did your debit card expire? Did you use the service too heavily? Nope on both accounts, it was for lack of use. Just because the movies came in the mail didn’t mean my specialized form of amnesia didn’t apply. I was simply unable to ever return the movies. I think that Netflix just assumed I was dead and stopped my monthly bill and charged me for the movies. Netflix is kind enough to refund the purchase price when you realize what’s happened and merely return the movies.

On Demand

I haven’t figured out a way to screw this one up yet, although the initial price is more than a standard movie rental especially if you use something like RedBox in the long run it’s way cheaper for me. No late fees, you know what you’re going to get. I’m a true believer.

Music

CD Clubs

Alright fess up, who of you haven’t joined a CD, Tape or 8-track club in your life? Right like you could just pass up the offer for 10 CD’s for 1 shiny penny (+shipping and handling). Columbia House made so much money on me it’s ridiculous. This was back in the day when you had to send back the card that said “No thank you I don’t want to purchase the Rick Astley Best Of Album at this time.”  I pretty much ended up purchasing whatever was the selection of the month through sheer lack of discipline. This got better when they switched to email notification and I could login and say no thanks. Watch out for this one, I can’t be alone here as they couldn’t survive without the likes of me and my peers. I see that they don’t really do music anymore but you can be lured into the same trap with movies. You’ve been warned otherwise enjoy your copy of Bring it On. Lifetime FPA $200

What About a monthly Subscription to ZunePass?

I’ve had a Zune since the day they came out. It’s a great MP3 player and the Zune marketplace is great. Then they came up with the ZunePass a monthly subscription that allows you to transfer all the music you want to your Zune as long as your a member and as a further bonus you can choose 10 songs a month that you can keep forever. I was a ZunePass member for 3 months and I was going to totally take advantage of the 10 downloads. But wait a minute, how is it that I only managed to download 4 songs to keep forever. See above. Potential value lost $26 plus I really did not utilize this service well.

Books

Now I’m happy to say that FiscalWife is guilty here as well. She was the cause of the first FPA misstep and contributes to the second.

Book Club

My wife wanted to do something nice for me and purchased a book on Smart Running for me through Runner’s World. What she may have not realized was that it was similar to a Time Life series of books that will just send you further titles at certain intervals. Nice. Well I’m the proud honor of 3 different running books that I have not read. It took me that long to figure out how to cancel the account. Yeah I’m talking about you Rodale!  $56 FPA opportunity.

The Public Library

Just a few weeks ago I got a call from FiscalWife asking if we had enough in our budget categories to pay her Library Fines. We are both guilty on this one. I don’t have as much problem paying these charges as the Library really bends over backwards to thwart your financial recklessness but still we persevere in ignoring their warnings. Yearly FPA $25.

How about You?

Alright, I’ve laid bare my soul and my wife’s for your reading enjoyment, why don’t you chime in with your own FPA’s and say together with me “Hi. My Name is Paul and I’m Fiscally Negligent.”

This article was featured in the 11th edition of Carnival of Money Stories over at Bible Money Matters.  Check out some of the other great Personal Finance stories they are awesome.   

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2009/07/20 at 4:57 am

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The Casual Observer 2009/07/15 at 1:22 pm

I do a decent job of avoiding these by writing due dates on the calendar IMMEDIATELY. Not a half hour after I get home, but within a minute. Simple in theory, can be difficult in practice.

I always won with the BMG music club. I always canceled after buying whatever was required.

Funny that NetFlix canceled you. Why not just keep milking you for the unused service?

A friend of mine misplaced a video once and didn’t realize it. When she found it and returned it, they wanted to charge her something like $80. She pointed out that it might make more sense for them to charge the actual cost of the video and retain her as a customer, but they pushed for the $80 and she took her rental business elsewhere, after years at this place.

At least with library fines, the money is going to a good place. Consider it a non-deductible contribution :)
.-= The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Billings Killings =-.

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Jason Pyle 2009/07/16 at 6:04 am

For your book addictions, I recommend paperbackswap.com. It’s a great service, and it keeps costs down.

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Paul Van Lierop 2009/07/16 at 8:25 am

Thanks for the tip Jason I had someone else recommend paperbackswap.com as well I’m an avid reader so that could be awesome.

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tperko 2009/07/16 at 11:37 am

How about the amount of money Verizon makes on people that don’t switch their texting plans to accommodate their actual usage? Without a plan the per text rate is .20, while under the Verizon plan it is .02 per text – or less ($5 for 250, $10 for 500, $20 for unlimited).

Sending just 25 text messages a month without a plan is the same price as being able to send 250 under the cheapest plan!
.-= tperko´s last blog ..Jos. A. Bank Buy 1 Get 2 Free =-.

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jason 2009/07/16 at 12:47 pm

Good recommendations.

@Jason Pyle – thanks for that website.

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Eric 2009/07/26 at 9:59 am

Never heard of Netflix canceling an account for low activity. I once had two movies for 8 months while I was working on a Death March Project. Not sure what the difference was between you and I – my money seems to be no more valuable than yours. Very odd.

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