Sunday, July 29, 2007

Costliest mistake

Most everyone has had a time where they made a mistake that cost them quite a bit financially. I had one this summer on my flight back to the States. Here is the unabridged account.

I arrive at my hostel on Wednesday afternoon for my flight that leaves the following morning. I decide to stay in the town about an hour from the airport because it's in a nicer place than the actual airport, and cheap shuttle services are offered straight to the airport. That afternoon, I reserve a place in a shuttle that leaves at 4 AM (gotta get to the airport at 5 since it's an international flight), and everything's set.

I go hang out with a friend to enjoy my last night in that country, and I call it an early night, so I can get up early the next morning. I set my alarm, and set it on a table a bit aways from my bed to make sure that I get up out of my bed instead of just hitting snooze from the comfortable position of my sheets. The alarm I've relied on for the four weeks I've been in this country is the alarm on a watch I got from Walgreen's before I left - of course the cheapest watch I could find.

Thursday morning, I wake up to light.... that's not good, it shouldn't be light at 4 in the morning. I check my watch, and it's in fact 6, and with the rush hour, I know that there's no chance I can get to the airport in time unless I had a private helicopter, which I doubt exists in this third-world country. I arrive at the airport late, and I discover that there are no more flights for the day through Spirit, the airline on which I booked my ticket. Their flight for Friday is all sold out, but I could catch a flight on Saturday night for under $200. Unfortunately, I have to be back by Saturday afternoon, so this flight won't work. My only option appears to be Delta, which flies directly to Atlanta, where I need to be, but this sets me back quite a bit more. There's not much more I can do, so I pay the price, and I chalk it up as a lesson learned.

What kept eating at me during this misadventure was why I didn't wake up in time. I think it was because the alarm on my watch was pretty weak, and I placed it far away, so it just wasn't loud enough to wake me up. Looking back, if I had only spent an extra $5-10 on a real alarm, I most definitely would not have missed my flight. In this case, my biggest mistake was not that I didn't wake up early, but that I didn't spend an extra few bucks to buy a real alarm. It's like when two people are bumping uglies - the mistake isn't the act, it's if you're too cheap to buy a condom.

And the cost of my mistake? Quite fittingly, $666.

What's been your most expensive mistake?
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Back in the USA

After my summer of adventure and misadventure, I'm finally back to a relatively regular schedule, and hope to write once again. I hadn't checked my email for a few weeks, but I noticed I received a couple of offers for advertisements on my site. I've expressed my opinion on advertising previously.

One of them was for an online payday loan advance. Despite the perceived convenience it offers, I argue that it only leads to more irresponsible spending and lax budgeting by individuals. My inner libertarian, if I had one, would disagree, but then again, I don't have one.

Here's the email:
Dear Sir/Madam,After visiting, our company, would be interested in an advertisement on your site. We provide consumers a safe and easy way to apply for payday loans online. Our advertisement format is generally 15 words long and it will contain two to three text links, which we provide. Please let us know how much your site would charge for an ad of this size.
We look forward to your reply and the opportunity to work with you.
To which I replied:
The cost for advertising on my site for a payday loan business is $10,000/yr.
If for some crazy reason they do bite, at least I can give it away to some sort of financial literacy programs.
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