Thursday, May 8, 2008

Am I Too Cheap?

As far back as I can remember I have always been a little frugal. I compare the price per oz. when buying cereal, I drive across town to save $.03 on gas (unless I calculate that I will use more than that amount in gas to get to the station), and I always turn off a light when leaving a room (thanks Dad!)

In my job I have the opportunity to spend money that is not my own. And even though it isn't my own, I still am very careful about how I spend. I book cheaper flights, even if it costs me some time, I stay in cheaper hotels (as long as they are clean) and I eat the free breakfast instead of going out for something better.

BUT, on my last trip I realized I might be TOO cheap.

A typical travel day to Asia looks like this for me:

4:30 AM (MST) Depart house for Airport
Wyoming-Denver Flight
Denver- (SFO) San Francisco
SFO - HKG (Arrive 24 hours after leaving home)

Then somewhere on the trip I will make my way to Korea, then fly back from there, with the return trip looking roughly the same, but in reverse.

But, last trip I found out that if I booked a round-trip to Korea, then from Korea booked a roundtrip to Hong Kong it would save the company $300. So, here was what it looked like last time

4:30 AM (MST) Depart house for Airport
Wyoming-Denver Flight
Denver- (SFO) San Francisco
SFO - Seoul
Arrive Seoul, go through Customs, get luggage, check back in, go back through customs, 2 hour layover
Seoul - HKG (3 hour flight)
Arrive Hong Kong almost 30 hours after I left home.

Sitting in the Seoul airport I decided I was a fool. Nobody was mandating my trip cost X dollars, or that I would get any kind of bonus for saving the money. I wasted over 6 hours of my personal time, let alone my discomfort, for what? An extra stamp in my passport and saving the company some cash. (I even used my United Gold Card to get free meals in the Business class lounge)

I'll tell you, that's the last time I do that, unless the savings is $350, then i'll consider it...


galleygrapevine said...

okay, so you got to see another country (from the inside of an airport) you lost 6 hours of sitting in the airport) none of which you will ever get back. And you saved the company $300.00, while someone else probably splurged on something else that was more of a luxury. So, the question, was it worth it to you? because the company probably wouldn't know any difference.
Oh, well, Live and learn!!!

mattviews said...

I would always go for a non-stop flight no matter who is paying. I just don't like getting on and off the plane, especially with the heightened security.

Carmi said...

I'm with you - after having had similar revelations following past travel experiences. Once, the company asked if I'd consider staying over the weekend to qualify for a lower ticket price (the difference was something like $300 as well.)

I refused. The extra hotel and food would have eaten into the savings, and I priced my family time as pretty much priceless. It didn't make my manager happy, but I refused.

And that was even before I brought up charging them overtime.

No one ever died wishing he/she had spent more time at the office. I guess the same thing can apply to travel.