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Big Wins need a reality check

November 6th, 2009 at 12:32 pm

You may or may not be aware of a growing camp or group or movement called the "Big Wins".

Their idea is that it's best to focus on the big stuff. The low-hanging fruit. The stuff that will make the biggest financial difference with the least amount of effort. Like your mortgage, or your insurance, or your career. Stuff like that.

I don't have a problem with that, but the Big Win camp's critique usually takes it a step further and claim, "Some people spend so much time sweating the small stuff that they don't bother to do the same on the big stuff. They're penny wise and pound foolish, negating their daily scrimping and saving by making poor financial decisions that burden them for years."

SAY WHAT?

How many readers here are so busy clipping coupons that they actually forget to re-finance their mortgage? Raise your hand. What about cars? Has couponing caused you to forget to look at affordable cars? And how many here are so busy clipping away that they've completely forgotten to work on getting a raise? Raise your hand high please, so I can count them.

What? No hands? Why? Because the Big Wins are wrong! Why is there an automatic assumption that we are so caught up in the little things that we've become incapable of noticing the big things?

Look, Big Wins. Some people enjoy doing these little things in life. Why? Because it brings us comfort and joy. It also gets us closer to our financial goals, because yes, little things can and do add up.

Now, if you don't want to do the little things, that's fine. Nobody says you have to do them. Nobody says you have to do anything. However, to claim that people who do little things are completely ignorant of the big things? I'm sorry, but that is completely absurd.

Besides, even the little things can be automated. For example, I don't think people cut a ton of coupons anymore. Many of the discounts come straight off of grocery store memberships. I simply carry it on my key chain, swipe it when I check out, and I get discounts. What's so hard about that?

With some automation and pre-planning, I think there's plenty of time to do both the big things and the little things, AND still have time to enjoy life. Be both penny wise and pound wise... or just be financially wise in general. Why not?

Finally, I just want to add that Get Rich Slowly isn't the main culprits on this kind of thinking, and although I linked them, I don't entirely blame them. JD, the author, has also been very good about focusing on the little things as well, and it's likely that this idea originated from elsewhere.

7 Responses to “Big Wins need a reality check”

  1. Caoineag Says:

    Usually when I hear the saying penny wise and pound foolish, its really applied to people buying cheap quality over and over rather than paying for good quality the first time.

    I would say though that I do have a friend who is just now learning that penny pinching won't keep you from going under if you keep locking your income up in monthly payments. However, I suspect most people who penny pinch know better than to do that.

  2. monkeymama Says:

    Where I live the big stuff slays you. I understand where they are coming from. (Who has money for little things, after the cars & mortgage?)

    In my profession I actually see a lot of terrible penny pinchers. I see people who make BIG MONEY who rather micro manage useless activities and go for the cheap. You would be surprised how much WE get paid sometimes to clean up the mess of others. Usually it's because a client went cheap with a very important function. The more successful do not micro-manage their pennies. Keep in mind I work with big money makers. They are better off making money than any other activity!

    As with anything, middle ground is important.

    I like the weight loss analogy that was brought up before. You can focus on just the diet or just the exercise - and you will lose weight. Obviously it will be the easiest if you focus on both. But some will find one easier than the other.

    & I think you forget that SA bloggers tend to be a bit unique? I do know people who scrimp every dime but don't know a thing about money. OR do so only because they spend too much on the big stuff, etc. I know a LOT of people like that!

  3. twotinytoes Says:

    Thanks for the link. Interesting article.

  4. homebody Says:

    I think both are important!

  5. Broken Arrow Says:

    Hmm, MM. I think do you have a point there about SA being different. As a general rule, we also tend to be a little more knowledgeable about finances than the general population.

    Perhaps this applies to them, and not the likes of us. Because I really do believe that we are capable of handling both the small details as well as the big stuff.

    Yeah, I know where the Big Wins are coming from as well, but people like that do also have to be careful not to dogmatically and systematically ignore the little things. As they say, the devil's in the details. Sometimes, you do have to pay attention to the little things.

  6. LuxLiving Says:

    As more and more of my Big Things got taken care, I moved into making more of the Small Things even tinier.

    I do think there are people who say, "I saved X dollars today buying this big ol' Whatsit!" Really? Tell me more.

    Well, it was RP'd at $1800.00. I got in on sale for $50 off.

    Great. What bank did you put it in?

    Bank?? puzzled look.

    The money. The money you saved???

    Well, I guess you got pretty restless saving up for it?

    Saving? another puzzled look. No, we put it on the CC.

    What? You must have 0% interest then?

    No. yet another puzzled look.

    So, you're going to pay it off before interest starts?

    umm, no.

    What kind of interest will you have to pay?
    interest? I don't know.

    So you made sure you were way below your credit limit?

    No. Say, you're awfully nosey! Why would I care what my credit limit is??

    So, surely, you searched and searched around and did all kinds of price comparisons first?

    Price comparisons????

    Checked online for sales, coupons or discounts?

    No.

    How many years is it going to take you to pay it off?

    Gulp. YEARS?


    How does this square up with your house taxes coming due next month, and didn't you say you didn't have the money for that put back yet?

    Slaps head. House taxes???? I forgot all about them.

    Well, surely there's at least a good warranty on it?

    Warranty? Yes, I paid $359 to have it under warranty for 9 months.

    What about their refund policy? You gotta pay those taxes man!!!

    Refund? No, Yes, ummm, I don't remember, but I think the guy said that because it was such a special deal they weren't going to do refunds.

    You might try. They may do it - maybe charge you a restocking fee.

    Restocking fee? What's that???



    All along the way there are pitfalls. Buyer Beware.

    Given a whole lot of smalls added together can equal up to all kinds of bigness - either potholes or rewards.



  7. Broken Arrow Says:

    Long but funny, Lux. Thanks for sharing. Big Grin

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