Once I finished my victory lap around the kitchen table to celebrate lower our car insurance premiums, I dashed over to dutifully input the new numbers into our budget spreadsheet* with a smug smile scrawled across my face. I had spent the better part of two weeks soliciting quotes via phone, email, and carrier pigeon. Finally, I found a company that would offer comparable coverage to the tune of $300 savings annually. I couldn’t wait to see the numbers dip. After a few simple keystrokes and a quick double check of my work, I clicked one more time to see the final category percentage plummet. And then…nothing.
Excuse the hyperbole. It wasn’t nothing. It was 1%. One percent of our budget could be moved from the transportation category to the savings category. One lousy percent. Somehow, my victory no longer seemed so sweet.
This past October, I received notice that our car insurance premiums were due, and they were going up $100 for the year. I foamed, I raved, I swore. Not only were our cars both a year older, but we had never filed a claim, we both boast pristine driving records, and Mr. P’s credit score has increased significantly this past year.** I immediately called our insurance agent and asked him to run me new quotes. After the most epic two-day game of phone tag, it was clear that this company was not going to be able to do much more for us. A little lot more research saw us switching to Esurance to save $300. It was at this point in my life that I was convinced there would be a magical confetti drop as my celebration commenced.
Then, I was confronted with the cold hard truth of percentages. You see, I had allowed this magical unicorn of three hundred extra dollars to grow to such epic proportions in my mind that I never stopped to consider the scale on which I was saving. That tiny, tiny scale.
This post is not to say that I will stop comparison shopping. Please. It’s at least a hobby, if not a skill I would put on a résumé. However, percentages can also yield powerful perspectives. Now, as I work to trim my other budget categories to plump up our savings even more, I try to bear in mind the bigger picture. This percentage exercise also underscores the significance of making more money, as opposed to only trying to save money.
*Yes, I said spreadsheet. Yes, I’m a millennial. No, I’m not a very good one.
**Mr. P was my first test subject in the pre-blog days. Another post for another day, but the short story is he basically had no credit when we got married. Now it is above 740. Fist bump.
So Tell Me…Do you use numbers, percentages, or both in your budget? Were you also disappointed the last time you saved money and there was no confetti celebration to accompany it?