Loyalty is a strange thing. We’re taught that being loyal is always a good trait, one possessed by honest, hard-working folks. We’re told that loyalty is rewarded. But when you think about the impact of loyalty in your financial life, is that really the case? Do you know if your loyalty is costing you money? Sometimes it pays to be disloyal.
Company loyalty isn’t what it used to be. Our parent’s generation was told to work at a company for 45 years and then retire with the help of a company pension. Over the past decades, these defined benefit plans have been phased out in favor of defined contribution plans. Things like your employer-sponsored 401(k) or 403(b) fall under this category.
Now that in general there’s a shift to defined contribution plans – which can end up costing employers less money – there may be less reason to stick around at one specific company.
In fact, job hopping is extremely common with millennials, especially right out of school. Part of this is due to just finding the right fit. Compensation, however, is another big reason. When you’re only getting relatively small raises at a company – somewhere between 2% and 8% annually – you could be leaving money on the table.
I left my steady, stable job in 2016 to work at a volatile start-up. My pay increase in a single job move was equal to what my pay increase was in the SIX YEARS at my previous company. After I got laid off, I got another substantial pay increase at my new job.
Staying at a company can have its benefits. Stock awards are common and often times employer matching on 401(k)’s will have a vesting period. But by not even being open to the possibility, and remaining blindly loyal to a company, you could potentially be leaving money on the table.
At a bare minimum, knowing what the market rate is for somebody with your skill-set and experience is important. You may love your current job and company, but if you’re not adequately compensated don’t be afraid to demonstrate your value and ask for more money.
Let’s be honest: insurance can be kind of boring. But it can also be an opportunity to cut some costs without changing a ton. Whenever your policy is set to renew – every six months or year, for example – it’s the prime time to check in on your plan.
Take a look at other insurance providers. Sometimes you’ll be able to get the same, or even better, coverage without spending more money. Just because you’ve been with a company for a long time doesn’t mean you’re getting the best deal.
If you love your insurance company but are still looking for ways to save money, look into raising your deductible. Doing so should decrease your premiums, and as long as you can afford the difference if you need to USE your insurance, you’ll likely come out ahead.
Internet, and TV are another area where loyalty can cost you money. Often times you sign up for a 1 or 2 year contract at a discounted rate. Once that time is over, your bill will hike up anywhere from 10 to 50 bucks a month. Ouch!
It can be hard to cut the cord on some of these completely, I admit. If I canceled our cable TV and Kristin couldn’t watch her Snapped, I’m 100% certain that she’d end up on it later. Thankfully, there are some options even if you like your current providers. For starters, call them and ask for the promo rate again (without a contract if you’d like). Sometimes they’ll work with you on deals. My uncle has consistently gotten NFL Network for free for the past 3 years through this maneuver. If they don’t work with you, don’t be afraid to cancel some of your service. If you bundled TV and Internet, tell them you’ll cut your TV and just pay for Internet.
Cable providers will at that point have two choices: give you a discount, or let you cancel. Either way you’re saving money. If you do cancel, commit to it for a month or two, then add it back if you absolutely need it. Otherwise you may be pleasantly surprised at how your life changes when you don’t have it.
Cell phones can be a bit trickier – canceling your service flat out can put you out of touch with the world. So, how do you deal with that? There are plenty of inexpensive cell phone carriers who offer service on other major networks (think AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint). If you’re on one of the big 3, check out a list of MVNO’s.
An MVNO, or Mobile Virtual Network Operator, is a company that essentially ‘rents’ data from another company’s infrastructure system. Since these are companies and not individuals, they can often negotiate cheaper rates with the cell tower owners. Those rates can be passed down to you.
It may require you to get a new phone, but if you’re nearing the end of your phone’s life anyway, this could be a good option. If you’re an Android user who uses WiFi a lot and not a ton of cell data, Project Fi is a good option too. You’ll only get billed for exactly what you use. I’m planning on switching once my contract is up.
Kristin loves the Verizon network but hates the prices. She’s an iPhone user, so we’ll switch her to Comcast Mobile next spring which is considerably cheaper.
Travel rewards are another prime case of loyalty costing you money. If you book flights, hotels, and rental cars without looking for cheaper options, you’re probably spending more money than you need to on your travel.
We admittedly are guilty of this: we book on Delta, knowing full-well it’s not cheap. We prefer to have a flight experience that Delta offers, plus they have great flight options out of the Minneapolis area. There are cheaper alternatives, but many of these come at a cost. Having to pay for carry-on bags, uncomfortable, cramped flights, and bad customer service keep us away from other airlines.
Hotels are a similar beast. Check out competing hotels in the same area or look at AirBnB. It could be surprising to see how much a difference there is. We booked an AirBnB on our minimoon. It was less expensive than staying at a hotel in the same area, and offered some nice perks like free laundry and a kitchen to cook in. It was our first AirBnB, but probably won’t be our last.
Just Shop Around
Moral of the story? Shop around and quit being loyal for the sake of loyalty. Know when you’re paying more for actual service (as is our case with Delta) compared to just paying more for the sake of it (as is our case with our phone situation). Shopping around can save you hundreds of dollars a year with relatively little effort and minimal impact on your day-to-day life.
What have you found you’re paying for that really doesn’t make sense, just because you’re loyal to something?