This week I learned a lesson: Don't assume.
Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: My car battery finally died after a couple of months of struggling to start. It was early on a Saturday morning, and (of course) in a couple of hours, the kids had to be going in different directions. My husband was home, and we were trying to work out our morning with the one car when I remembered that AAA has a service where a mechanic comes out to you and replaces your battery.
I have been a member of AAA for years and have used them for a few very satisfactory side-of-the-road service calls and tows. Also, I use their membership frequently for discounts on hotels, museums, retail, and dining -- good discounts, often the only one offered. We called AAA and the operator said someone would be at our house in half an hour, but she didn't know what the price of the battery was. The mechanic was actually there within 15 minutes (like I said, it was early on a Saturday morning). He was pleasant and seemed knowledgeable. He didn't have the same battery I had, so he replaced mine with a slightly more powerful one that he said would last a little longer. He was done in less than half an hour, and presented me with a bill of about $153. That seemed okay to me -- I hadn't changed a battery in a while, maybe never for that 8-year-old car -- and anything having to do with a car and a mechanic usually costs so much more. My husband thought it seemed high though. So just out of curiosity, I later called Sears Automotive, where we would normally go. They had my battery there, and someone was available to replace it right then. The cost was $95 plus tax.
Since I regard AAA as a provider of discounts for me, I assumed this service would be discounted as well. Of course, it was more convenient and faster to have someone come to my house. I was willing to pay for that aspect, but was that worth $50 to me? Probably not ... $50 buys a family museum membership, seven to ten discount movie tickets, hours of babysitting (depending on the sitter), or a whole lot of groceries. I could have gotten a jump from my husband, driven down and got the battery changed, and been back within an hour or two. Or, I could have had AAA tow it to Sears, and gotten dropped off later to pick up the car with the new battery. I'll know for the next time, and now, so will you.
A former state deputy attorney general and current stay-at-home mom, Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla has three kids and ten years of experience stretching one salary to cover the necessities and more. She's all about saving money whenever you can, so you have it to spend on whatever you want!