Take Care of Financial Business Challenge

by Katy on August 23, 2009 · 16 comments

CashIt may be a month-and-a-half old, but I just came across NY Times reporter Ron Lieber’s piece about how he took an entire work day to take care of his financial business.

My favorite line item on his to-do list was to use up all his gift cards:

“SHOPPING SPREE Yes, you get to have fun on fiscal health day. Gather up all of your gift cards and spend the money that’s left on them. The longer they sit, the more interest Apple or Borders or the department store will earn from your money and bigger the chance you’ll misplace the card.”

Click here to read what Lieber was able to get done in his single minded crusade to vanquish all the financial tasks that we all mean to attend to yet somehow put off.

I took on a similar task a year-and-a-half ago when I spent three months off from work because of a broken tailbone. This was, of course without pay and I looked at every single set expense with an eye to how low could we go. There were very few bills that I wasn’t able to decrease, (some of which significantly so.) Here is a link to the piece I wrote about it.

I think it might be time to readdress this pursuit, as I can think of a number of financial tasks that need my attention:

  1. Move savings from next-to-no interest rate credit union account into ING Direct or similar. I opened  an ingdirect.com savings account which is currently at 1.4% interest. This is 7 times the interest rate (0.2%) I was getting at my credit union!
  2. Deal with bill from doctor’s office, as they billed the wrong insurance company. Note: I stopped into the doctor’s office, but the billing person was not available. I did get her name and direct number though.
  3. Cancel old internet company now because I’m sure that everyone important has our new e-mail address. This one is frustrating though, as I have given Feedburner (who does my blog subscriptions) my new e-mail address over-and-freaking-over, yet the change never takes effect!! I can’t pay $10 per month just because of Feedburner’s stupidity.
  4. Return son’s swim trunks to Columbia Sportswear store, (we had a gift card) whose velcro pulls open every time he swims. I sewed them shut, but I shouldn’t have had to do this.
  5. Return mirror hangers to Fred Meyer, as mirror in question is too short to be hung on any of my five panel doors. All returned now. $7.27 back, which will be put into savings.

Oy. . .  there’s probably more, but that will make the day that much more satisfying!

What do you think about dedicating an entire weekday to taking care of all the financial tid-bits that nickel-and-dime us to death? Add your John (or Jane) Hancock in the comments section below if you’re in!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen@The Frugal Girl August 23, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I never seem to be able to dedicate an entire day to any one thing. lol I think it’s probably due to having four kids at home all the time. :p


SeekingSimplicity August 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Great post, Kate. I am up for the challenge. However, I am giving myself a whole week to tackle the things on my list. It will take some baby steps for me to get into this, as I tend to procrastinate on all things financial for as long as possible.


Elizabeth B August 23, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Oh wow, I think I’ll jump in on this. Thanks for the idea. 😀


Jill August 23, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I’m up for the challenge! On my list?? Cleaning out my file cabinets. You know – tossing the old utility bills and such. Should have done this in January, but neglected to do so. It will feel sooooo good one I finish!


Leigh @ compactbydesign August 23, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I am just incredibly grateful that those tasks are primarily done by the husband. I have to clean up the piles and the filing but the actual paying and such is taken care of. Love that man!!


Jinger August 24, 2009 at 9:27 am

Yes, I have small gift cards at Whole Foods and Chico’s to use, an item to return to WalMart, letters to mail and a few more random errands that I put off. Tomorrow is my day…car being serviced today.


WilliamB August 24, 2009 at 6:06 pm

I rarely have a whole day just for financial tasks; more frequently it’s a day for tasks, some of which are finanical.

Sometimes these overlap unexpectedly. This weekend I exchanged a pair of running shorts. Why did a straight exchange get me money? I happened to mention to the clerk that I’d forgotten the store discount. He suggested I return and rebuy not only the shorts but the running shoes as well. That was nice of him – it was my fault for forgetting.

Here’s a tip: when you’re planning your errands (you do plan your errands to be efficient, right?), set up the stops so that every one is on the right hand side of the street. You save time and money not trying to make a lot of left turns. FedEx saved tens of millions with this trick.


karen August 25, 2009 at 11:43 am

I recently went through a 3 ring binder of all past financial statements to add the more recent ones & weed out the older, no longer needed ones. Lo & behold! I found my passport! only 3 months too late to get it renewed…. so now must start the process over again. On the other hand, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. Any extra money is going towards an extra mortgage payment at the end of the year ( the foreclosure homes in my neighborhood are making me nervous) instead of any travel plans. Put it on my to do list for next year…


Amy H. August 25, 2009 at 4:01 pm

I heartily applaud the financial-health day concept. Just wanted to add, though, that 1.4% interest is not 12 times .2% interest, only 7 times. Now, if ING Direct were paying 2.4% interest! That would be wonderful, and they used to pay that, but not right now . . . .


Robbie Kay January 6, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I can’t believe how much he was able to do in one day! While I don’t think I’ll be taking a fiscal health day anytime soon, I do every once in a while go through my To Do List and highlight in green (symbolic) those To Dos that would bring me in some money–bottle returns, items to return, checks to deposit, etc.

I just heard some people talking on the train last night about how if something goes wrong with an item from Columbia they just take it in and they’ll repair it free of charge. Mind you, I can’t confirm this is true (and you still have the hassle of the errand).


Katy January 6, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Robbie Kay,

Columbia Sportwear will take back items to repair, and I know this to be true, as I have done this before. Twice, I have taken in coats for new zippers. They are a local company here in Portland, Oregon, so it is easy to drop off an item at the store. No hassle.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


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