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Friday, March 16, 2007

Afraid of freedom?

I just saw a Bank of America add for a ridiculous new "service" they offer. Every time you use your check card, they'll round the purchase amount up to the next dollar, and put that change into your savings account. While unlikely to make much of any difference, it seems that you would run the risk of overdrawing your checking account, or dropping below minimum balances to avoid fees or get interest. Which explains why BOA offers it. But why would any customer feel that the ideal savings deposit was fifty-seven cents or so whenever he made a check-card purchase? The key appeal to this "offer" seems to be that it removes conscious thought from the act of saving.

Similarly, American Express advertised their charge cards for years as offering the "benefit" of requiring payment-in-full each month, avoiding interest charges, something you had the option of doing with any other credit card. But somehow Amex proudly proclaimed restrictions on your options as a "benefit" to you.

And how many people have you heard praise the new extended daylight savings time because there's more daylight after work? I've heard it at my job, where the hours are very flexible. Any of these people could have just come in and left an hour earlier all winter and enjoyed the same "benefit." But they'll wait month after month until the government tells them to spring forward. Sir yes sir!

And then there are those who have extra taxes taken out of their paycheck so they'll get a refund in April, apparently because they think the government deserves the interest on the money more than they do. (And if you don't have savings, it's even worse, because the interest you pay on credit cards or other debt you could have paid down with the money is higher than you'd get on savings.)

I know there are times when I'd prefer almost anything to making a real choice, especially when it comes to there being two things I want to do at the same time. I desperately try to find some compelling reason why I can't possibly do one of them so that I won't have to decide.

So who is it that hates freedom again?