Before you judge me on what I am about to share, there are a few things I would like you to know about me. I still balance our family checkbook. As in, down to the penny. Every month. I do our own taxes and have receipts for everything. Everything. I check our family healthcare claims against the EOBs before paying the bills (you have to love high-deductible healthplans!). Who does that? I do. And yet somehow, I still ended up with four Amazon Prime subscriptions. Yes, four.
Here is how we discovered the issue. If you are like me, your credit card bill has become very long. My wife Debbie and I (and now our kids too) charge everything from plane tickets down to Starbucks coffees so the number of rows on each bill has become a bit unwieldy to review every month. I have lapsed into a habit of a cursory review of the larger ticket items before making the payment (and then sometimes grabbing a drink!). But this month, Debbie took a closer look at our bill and noticed multiple charges from Amazon Prime. Red flag. It turns out this was not the first month – for at least the last year and a half, we have been unnecessarily overpaying the largest corporation in the world.
It took an hour of some comical conversations with some very confused overseas customer service representatives, but we finally pieced together what happened. Debbie has always had the main Amazon Prime account and we certainly get our money’s worth out of the free shipping (the UPS man has worn a path in the grass to our front door!). At some point, she changed the email address associated with the account and Amazon ended up charging her for both the old and new emails as if there were two accounts. On my side, I started a new Amazon account at some point because I didn’t want Debbie to see what I was buying her for Christmas in the order history, and somehow, I managed to do that twice on two different emails and voila, that is how you get four Amazon Prime accounts (and charges).
Over the last 8 years of working as a financial advisor, I have noticed a similar concept in almost every detailed review of the finances of my clients. Most people are still paying for a gym membership that they no longer use, or a streaming service that they didn’t know they had, or are automatically paying for large increases to their auto insurance that they didn’t even know about. So, as painful as it is, check your credit card statement and see if you can find some cost savings just from eliminating errors, waste and inefficiencies like these. Because nobody is immune from paying too much, not even a financial advisor who balances his checkbook.
Neil Manning, CFP, AIF, CDFA, FSA
I am a reformed actuary turned financial advisor, helping my clients with everything from investments to retirement projections to LTC insurance since 2014. Unlike most normal people, I love numbers and finance – I’m currently reading a book about game theory which my wife and two teenage daughters think is unbelievably boring (they are wrong). For more details about my background, check out my website below.