Over the weekend, our biological father emailed and asked me to purchase a $2.00 money order on his behalf for an FAA certificate (he’s a pilot) and mail it to him in Japan. While I wasn’t sure how much a money order cost these days, my initial reaction was “What a waste of money to buy a money order for $2.00.” But it was a busy weekend, so I just planned to go to the Post Office this week to buy the money order and gave it no further thought.
When I got to the post office this afternoon and told the clerk that I would like a money order for $2.00, he told me, “OK, but it’ll cost you $1.50.” At that moment it occurred to me that I could have just made out a check for him instead. It was quite embarrassing to not have made the realization sooner, but in front of someone else who must think me a simpleton for not having thought of it before going all the way to the post office. (Luckily, I was also going to the library next door and could also ask how much postage I would need for 1st Class Mail to Japan, so my trip didn’t seem totally in vain.)
The funny thing is, I’m usually very vigilant about the ways I could do something differently to save money, but for some reason – out of busyness or pure absentmindedness – failed to do so this time. Now I wonder how many other things I could be doing differently to save money in my daily life that I haven’t yet thought of. This was a good reminder for how vigilance and a little bit of thinking are a must for truly frugal living.
I’m not saying that one should be consumed by money-saving thoughts day and night, for that can’t possibly be healthy, but perhaps just once a day, when you are doing something that costs money (either directly or indirectly), just spend a few moments thinking about how you’re doing it and what you could change or do instead to save a little here and there. You’d be surprised at what a few minutes of reflection can yield. You may even find ways to improve the way you’ve been doing some things.
Remember, a few cents here and there by themselves may not seem like much, but added up over time, they do make a difference (see From Pennies One Million Dollars Grow). Besides, thinking is free … and it’s good for you, too.
P.S. I checked the FAA website upon returning home to make sure they accept checks.