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July 10, 2009

Ask-o-logy: Show me the money

Tuesday I discussed in general terms what I asked for, and I laid out a few basics. Here, finally, is the next installment!

So. You're probably wondering the same thing I was wondering: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

More like:

1) How much extra cash did La Roxy gain in this year of daily asking?

Yesterday I reported that there were 150 monetary requests. (Recall that "Money" included any good or service that had a dollar value, as well as cold hard cash I acquired or saved, by asking.)

So I should just count the dollars in the money category and voila! -- right?

Actually, it's not that simple.

First we need to cut out the requests where I asked for a discount, got it, but didn't claim it for whatever reason. There were 8. That amount is $243.

If we add up the rest, the grand total is:


Not bad! In fact, that's around 20 percent of my yearly income. Imagine if someone with a "real" salary asked daily, on a bigger scale, seeking bigger and harder discounts. I'm all a-tingle at the thought of it.

Unfortunately, though, $4,579.39 is still not a very "helpful" figure. I mean, it includes things like refunds. If I asked a store to return a picture frame I bought but lost the receipt, is that really money "gained"? Or is it money that I'm entitled to? What if they bent a rule for me? What if it was obvious the frames weren't used, but the manager had the final say and it was a mean manager? or a nice one?

2) What if I only counted the money that resulted in an increase in my net worth?

That would mean skipping the transactions that involved refunds and similar compensations. Basically, I need to find out how much cash and goods I either acquired or managed to not spend -- simply by asking.

Let's first split up the Money category into four groups:

"Profit" is any money I earned by asking, where I gave nothing in return. It's also something I wouldn't have otherwise obtained or paid for. That includes my raise, the airfare voucher, and all the extra perks and goodies that came my way.

"Saved" refers to money I didn't spend, but would have without asking. Basically, these are the various discounts I snagged. Less expenses mean more money in my pocket, so they're a different sort of gain.

The next two are trickier.

"Recouped" is the money I spent and then regained by asking for special treatment or an exception. Like the picture frames. It also includes goods I obtained as compensation for an error. For example, when Mr. A and I had bad service at Denny's, I asked for a dessert on the house to make up for it. These aren't exactly gains, but they're still an improvement of the status quo, the norm, etc, through asking.

"Was owed" is not technically a gain. Rather, it's money I was clearly entitled to but still had to ask for. A cashier credited $25 back to my card, because I asked her to double check my receipt. No doubt I should have gotten that money, but if I didn't ask for it, I might have missed out. There were 5 such transactions.

By the way, this chart shows only the requests that resulted in gains. Memo from the Department of the Obvious: Looks like I managed to save most frequently.

But these numbers aren't useful without some context.

3) How profitable was each type of request?

Wow. So even thought I sought Profit less than half as often as I sought Savings, I gained around $500 more in there. A pair of airfare vouchers gained in January, worth around $1,330, is what boosts that amount.

The very low "Recouped" total makes me think that in the future, maybe I could cut those losses and focus on maximizing profits.

And scary how big the "owed" category is. This is money that should have come my way, and if I'd been asleep at the wheel, it might not have. Makes me want to be much more vigilant. Also kinda annoying. Just sayin'.

So to find out how much I've gained this year -- and not just recovered -- by asking, let's add up the first two groups, Profit and Saved. That value is:


For the rest of the analyses, "Total Sum" will mean $$4,579.39, while "True Gain" will be $3,204.89. I'll usually work with the first figure, but the second is cool to know.

A few remarks:

1) Much of the Profit came from a single transaction, the $1,330 airplane voucher. I realize it "skews the data" (is that how scientists talk? excuse my ignorance), but I'm including it because it was a valid request. If I write it off as a fluke, that undermines the whole idea of the project, which is to find out how much one can gain by asking DAILY. If anything, this propitious aberration shows the value of persistence and seeking opportunities everywhere, all the time.

2) At the start of the project, I figured the total amount gained would be much bigger. I had planned on buying a car, but my Nissan is hanging on. And I expected to have graduated by now, or at least negotiated a starting salary for my first full time job. I really hope my car lasts, but I'm definitely expecting to do more salary negotiations in Year Two.

3) I realize I'm super comfortable with haggling and bargaining. The next challenge: finding ways how to make my money grow, not my losses to shrink.

In conclusion, because of renewed efforts and the ever-pending salary negotiation I've been working up to, I'm expecting to see a much bigger total, same time next year.

Next: More money! Followed by Location...
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