Damn You Sir Isaac Newton!
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Sir Isaac Newton has rightfully taken a place in the pantheon of great scientists.
Newton, Galileo and Einstein make up the triumvirate that is the Fathers of Physics.
As a great percentage of my livelihood results from the science of physics it would seem odd that I would be blaspheming the one who helped make it all possible.
I actually have nothing against Sir Isaac Newton which the title of this post may have lead you to believe.
Rather I have beef with one of the most famous laws of physics attributed to him, Newton’s Three Laws of Motion.
To be more specific, it is the first of these three laws that has caused much consternation in my life, often referred to as Newton’s Law of Inertia.
Every school kid can recognize this particular law of physics as the one that states:
“An object at rest tends to stay at rest. An object in motion tends to stay in motion.”
Many of my mistakes, financial or otherwise, can be traced back to this particular law.
Inertia has often caused me to maintain the status quo because my body at rest wanted to stay at rest, and because of this I often missed out on opportunities for greater rewards.
It often takes quite an effort to change one’s trajectory in life.
As children we grow accustomed to routines, often passed down to us from our parents, and soon find ourselves in a rut that is hard to dig out of.
It is much easier to stick to what is known than to explore the unknown.
Thus we become complacent.
A prime example of this was my hesitation to start the very blog you are reading now.
I knew I loved to write, have been told I am quite good at it, and have also developed a passion for personal finance that arose from the school of hard knocks that was my life.
This combination seemed perfect for me to create and maintain a blog.
Yet despite over two years of encouragement from medical colleagues I was no further along in the process than when I first even had an inkling of wanting to blog.
Why did it take that long for me to try my hand at blogging?
Was it the cost?
No. Blogging is one of those activities that you can do with little upfront cost (often a couple hundred dollars or less).
No, it was inertia that was holding me down, far stronger than any gravitational/magnetic field around me.
In my inaugural blog post, I described how that first step was the hardest.
That first step was the hardest because it required a “Herculean effort” to break the bonds of inertia that had held it to the ground for so long.
Damn you Sir Isaac Newton.
There are so many other instances where our bodies at rest betray us and cause us to incur financial penalties.
Have you ever noticed that a common method of getting people to try a service is by offering a limited time free subscription?
Whether it be an introductory free TV programming package, music service, or magazine subscription, the premise behind these offers is that there will be a percentage (often a large one) of subscribers that will let these trial offers lapse and inadvertently become paid subscribers.
These companies are relying on the principles of inertia preventing you from taking the necessary steps to cancel these subscriptions in time.
I have fallen victim to this ploy numerous times in the past (I now either forgo the trial subscription altogether or make sure I add the cancel by date to my smart phone calendar as soon as I accept the offer)
Damn you Sir Isaac Newton.
Another example of this law being a thorn in my financial side is made possible courtesy of my optometrist.
I have a family vision and dental plan through my work which deducts the premium through my paycheck.
These plans require you to receive your services at participating providers.
I found a great optometrist that was near my home, had great reviews and excellent facilities, and happened to be under the preferred provider list.
I was set.
Until I wasn’t.
A couple of years into this relationship the optometrist decided that he would no longer be accepting this insurance and thus dropped off the provider list.
I am not even sure if I was given notice of this change but I soon realized that I was now footing a $120+ bill for every family visit when before it was a minimal co-pay.
So did I do the right thing and find another provider that accepted this insurance?
I continued paying a premium for services that would have been covered under my insurance plan elsewhere and, to rub salt in the wound, I also continued to pay for a plan I was not using.
[I can feel Dr. McFrugal throwing stuff at his monitor and shaking his head in disbelief at me.]
Do I like throwing 100s of dollars away each year?
Of course not.
So what gives?
I was apparently too lazy to find a qualified optometrist under the plan and sign the necessary documents.
Although inertia played a large part in this, there was another responsible component that I hate to admit but here goes:
For some reason, I thought I would be looked down upon if the reason I was transferring my family to another office was money related.
It was an absolute ridiculous line of thinking but unfortunately pride did indeed play a part in my rationalization of staying with the original optometrist.
So am I still with this original optometrist?
The bonds of inertia (and pride) were broken when I bought a new pair of eyeglasses in 2018 (some 3 or 4 years later after the insurance coverage change) and tried to submit a claim through my insurance company’s out-of-network claims department.
Unbeknownst to me, my claim was originally denied as they incorrectly thought this was my second pair of glasses obtained during the year.
It turns out, through some clerical error, someone had put a prior claim for my daughter’s eyeglasses she received earlier under my name.
There was no denial letter explaining this or any phone call.
I reached out to the insurance company when I finally realized it had been months since I submitted the claim and heard nothing.
After multiple phone calls and having to re-submit the form, I was finally rewarded with a $20 check for an over $300 pair of glasses.
At this point I thought enough was enough and took the necessary steps to transfer my family to a provider covered under insurance.
Damn you sir Isaac Newton.
So how has Newton’s first law of motion impacted your financial journey to wealth? Please comment below.
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