Ok, so the convenient part may be a bit of a stretch. In general I like to do things for myself when the opportunity arises. This way, Im am not depending on someone who may or may not be dependable, and likely couldn’t care less on what the outcome could mean for me. Let me give two examples that come to mind to make this clear. I will add that neither of these examples happened to me, but to people I know.
The first has to do with property tax. Im sure for 80-90% of you out there, your bank “pays” your annual property tax for you. This is done by adding a few dollars (and by few I mean a few hundred) on to your mortgage payment, and the bank then remits this to the city, or whoever at tax time. Then everything is just dandy. Usually. What happens when the bank messes up? Then we have a bit of a mess. Either you have to ante up the amount the bank was short, maybe a few hundred, maybe a thousand; or you can have the difference added to your monthly mortgage payment for the next year. Great, just what everyone wanted! Or since this is so close to tax time, you can take your tax return money and fork that over to the bank. Another great option! This is why I like to simply take care of this myself. I set aside around $290 each month, so when my tax bill comes in the mail, I see the exact amount I owe, go online and make the payment, rarely is there any surprises. Even if there is some huge hike in the tax rate, or my house assessment, I would be on it, because I pay attention to this stuff (paying attention is required when making major financial transactions, you should know that by now, especially if you own a home). So this person I know, their bank ran a bit short on their tax amount, and they have to come up with about $600, or tack on about $50 a month to their payments for the next year. Oops! I will add that part of the issue here is that no one at the bank gets paid, reaches a bonus, or has a target to get your property tax amount right. So no one pays much attention to this amount for you. You may need to fight with your bank to take control of this yourself. The reason is that while the bank is taking care of your taxes, the bank knows “you” are paying your taxes, and therefore, they city/province cannot take over your property for not paying the taxes. Those banks certainly like to watch their backs.
My second example of the value in doing something your self involves booking a trip. This person I know booked a trip through a travel agency, because she was too lazy to do the research herself (this was told to me). A few days after booking the trip, something came up and the dates of the trip needed to be changed. No problem, I will call my agent and see what can be done, she thought. A call was made, and days passed. Another call was made, a few more days passed, no reply. An email was sent. No response (no away from office either). Finally after about 2 annoying weeks, she finally reached the agent and was told the date could change, but there was a fee of a couple hundred dollars, and oh yes, this new flight was also another $500 dollars more. After a brief on line search, my friend found a more convenient and cheaper flight. Needless to say, she cancelled with the agent, for a small fee, and booked the flight herself. Lesson learned I hope.
One last point I will make, is that if you are in the situation where doing something is out of your control, and someone must do this for you, then YOU should be following up with them, confirming amounts, and asking questions if you are not sure about something.
There is also often learning opportunities associated with doing things yourself. Anything anyone would like to share of what they like to do for themselves?