Originally Posted On January 18, 2016
A few months ago I had an awful time trying to save money on Black Friday. While I preach frugalism, occasionally I, too, make a frivolous purchase. This time it was on a big-screened TV - something I had never bought myself before and which I don't intend to buy another for a very long time. I had decided at the beginning of the month I wanted one and, with Black Friday around the corner, determined that the ideal buying time for a new TV was quickly approaching.
With savings in mind, I laid out a budget of up to $500, downloaded Slickdeals (a community-based website/Android app geared towards finding deals), did my research to find which tv in my price range would be best, and began waiting. Eventually, a deal on my selected TV came up that nearly met all of my requirements except price. While it was $70 over my budget cap, I still felt like it was a good deal because of a $200 gift card that came with the purchase. However, I still couldn't bypass my budget reservations and shake the extra $70 from my mind!
It was at this time (the night before the deal went live) that I discovered Raise.com - a company where users can sell gift cards they don't want for a reduced price. On Raise, I could buy a $500 gift care for $460, getting my total price down to $530 w/a $200 gift card after tax - still over my original budget, but acceptable enough for me to stop worrying about overspending. ("Bad, Phi! What about your budget?!" ...I know...)
The Real Conundrum
So I registered for Raise, placed my order (getting the 1% cashback on my card) and waited to receive my confirmation message, anticipating a couple seconds' wait. At this time, I receive a message saying that since this is my first purchase using Raise, I will need to answer a few questions over the phone to activate my account and that shortly I will be receiving a call. A few minutes passed and I still hadn't gotten my confirmation call so I Googled how long to expect. While most transactions are immediate, I was supposed to wait up to 24 hours to receive the call. And the deal was going live in 13 hours on a first-come, first-served basis!
So, of course, I start panicking. After all, I've got this great deal I've been relying on, I've just spent $460 on something that is only useful to me in this one scenario, and now I have no idea if I'll be able to use it or not! I take a shower to cool off and shortly afterwards get my confirmation call. Only then I get disconnected.
I try to call back and get disconnected again. The third time I make it through, answer the questions and am told that within a half hour I should see the change reflected on my account, but never get my confirmation message or the code to the gift card I've just purchased. I keep trying to call back, but keep getting disconnected. At this point, I've put in 3 hours of work. They close, I lie awake in bed worrying.
Lessons Learned From Neglecting Time
The next morning, I check my account first thing to see no change. I leave for work angry, swearing off Raise and putting all the blame on them, but somewhere along the trip I began to reflect on the situation and realize that I only had myself to blame. I rushed into this, feeling pressured by the impending deadline of the Black Friday deal going live - exactly how they wanted me to feel. Before buying, I should have taken the time to do my research and account for a problem to arise and make the transaction take the full 24 hours allotted. I also realize then that instead of blaming someone other than myself, I've learned something valuable - that I am prone to making bad decisions when I am rushed.
And I don't think that it's just me. Most people will also get themselves into similar situations - where they haven't done their research, they don't know what to expect, and when their hopes go south, they throw the blame on someone or something else. Time has a funny way of providing us with what we want, we shouldn't ever feel like "I have to pull the trigger now!" If you miss one opportunity, time will give you another. And if you wait long enough, time will give you an even better one.
So I raise the question: When was the last time you blamed someone for your situation? How could a better you have prevented it? Having said that, I propose a challenge. The next time you find yourself blaming someone/something for your problems, find something in the situation that you could have performed better, then make efforts to incorporate that something into your future - eliminating one of your weaknesses and taking control of where you stand.
For those wondering... Ultimately, I jumped through many more hoops and spent nearly 8 hours of work and stress to save $40 - not worth it. However, my Raise account has now had the first transaction and if I need it again in the future, I now have a tool to reduce the cost of items through certain companies - given up to a 24 hour waiting window.
Oh, and with that $200 gift card, I used $178 of it to buy a surround sound system for the TV, not spending a cent more out of my pocket - the only way a free gift card should ever be used!