Saving Is Degrading – Northwest Airlines

planeFor those of you who have not been watching the news lately, Northwest Airlines handed out a booklet to their employees who were going to be laid off including a section called “101 Ways To Save Money” – the airline employees responded by protesting the list as offensive:

“This is disgraceful that somebody at Northwest Airlines would send this out to a long-term employee facing having no job telling them to do certain things that are very degrading,” Robert Roach Jr., general vice president of transportation for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said in an interview.

It seems that people in the forums didn’t find most of the list as degrading, but the way in which the list was given to those being let go was quite inappropriate. You can judge for yourself – the list of 101 saving ideas courtesy of Minnesota Head Hunter

1. Set your thermostat to 64 and turn it down to 60 at night.
2. Use the phone book instead of directory assistance.
3. Use coupons at the grocery store.
4. Carpool.
5. Ask for generic prescriptions instead of brand name.
6. Do your own nails.
7. Rent out a room or garage.
8. Replace 100 watt bulbs with 60 watt.
9. Make long distance calls at night and on weekends, instead of mid-day, mid-week.
10. Throw pocket change in a jar and take it to the bank when it’s full.
11. Always grocery shop with a list.
12. Buy spare parts for your car at a junkyard.
13. Go to museums on free days.
14. Quit smoking.
15. Get hand-me-down clothes and toys for your kids from family and friends.
16. Meet friends for coffee instead of dinner.
17. Request to get interest on a security deposit for your apartment.
18. Take a shorter shower.
19. Write letters instead of calling.
20. Brown bag your lunch.
21. Make your own baby food.
22. Use public transportation.
23. Drop duplicate medical insurance.
24. Buy old furniture at yard sales and refinish it yourself.
25. Apply for scholarships and financial aid.
26. Exercise for free-walk, jog, bike, or get exercise videos from the library.
27. Form a baby-sitting cooperative with friends and neighbors.
28. Buy your clothes off season.
29. Go to a matinee instead of an evening show.
30. Share housing with a friend or family member.
31. Hang clothes out to dry.
32. Do not use your calling card.
33. Volunteer two hours a month for reduced cost food through the Share Program.
34. Change the oil in your car yourself regularly.
35. Get pre-approval from your medical insurance company before undergoing any procedures or tests.
36. But ‘no frills’ vitamins.
37. Take a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods.
38. Make cards and gifts for friends.
39. Shop in thrift stores.
40. Have your water company do an audit so you are not charged sewage fees for water used in your garden.
41. Refinance your mortgage.
42. Grocery shop on double coupon days.
43. Trade down your car for a less expensive, lower maintenance one.
44. Convert your cash value life insurance to term.
45. Shop around for eyeglasses.
46. Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.
47. Recycle.
48. Move to a less expensive place to live.
49. Use low flush toilets or water saving devices in the tank.
50. Drop unneeded telephone services like call forwarding or caller ID.
51. Buy fruits and vegetables in season.
52. Avoid using your ATM card at machines that charge a fee.
53. Bicycle to work.
54. Shop around for auto insurance discounts for multiple drivers, seniors, good driving records, etc.
55. Ask your doctor for samples of prescriptions.
56. Borrow a dress for a big night out. or go to a consignment shop.
57. When you buy a home negotiate the sales price and closing costs.
58. Turn the hot water heater down and wrap it with insulation.
59. Never grocery shop hungry.
60. If you qualify, file for Earned Income Credit.
61. Shop around for prescriptions including mail order companies (Medi-Mail 800-331-1458, Action Mail Order Drugs 800-452-1976, and AARP 800-456-2277).
62. If you pay for childcare, make use of the dependent care tax credit or your employer’s dependent care flexible spending account.
63. Buy, sell, and trade clothes at consignment shops.
64. Shop around for the lowest banking fees.
65. Caulk windows and doors.
66. Iron your own shirts.
67. Plan your weekly food menu before shopping.
68. Buy a good used car instead of a new model car.
69. Purchase all of your insurance from the same company to get a discount.
70. Cut your cable television down to basic.
71. Go to an optometrist for routine vision tests or to change an eyeglass prescription.
72. Buy pre-owned toys and children’s books at garage sales.
73. Have potluck dinners with friends and family instead of going out.
74. Use the library for books, video tapes, and music.
75. Inspect clothing carefully before purchasing it.
76. Don’t use your dishwasher dry cycle; open the door and let them air dry all night.
77. At the grocery store, comparison shop by looking at the unit price.
78. Make your own coffee.
79. Use old newspapers for cat litter.
80. Shop at discount clothing stores.
81. Skip annual full mouth x-rays unless there is a problem; the ADA recommends x-rays every 3 years.
82. Water your garden at night or early in the morning.
83. Shop around for long distance rates.
84. Hand wash instead of dry cleaning.
85. Grow your own vegetables and herbs.
86. Shop around for auto financing.
87. Donate time instead of money to religious organizations and charities.
88. If you are leaving a room for more than five minutes, turn off the light.
89. Shop at auctions or pawn shops for jewelry and antiques.
90. Keep your car properly tuned.
91. Request lower interest rates from your creditors.
92. Trade in old books, records, and CDs at book and record exchanges.
93. Pay bills the day they arrive; many credit card companies charge interest based on your average daily balance.
94. Buy software at computer fares.
95. Search the Internet for freebies.
96. Compost to make your own fertilizer.
97.If your car has very little value, you probably only need liability insurance.
98. Cut the kids hair yourself.
99. Increase your insurance deductible.
100. Buy in bulk food warehouses.
101. If your income is low, contact utility companies about reduced rates.

What I found interesting is that although this list has money saving ideas, the ideas are not in context with someone getting laid off. I could certainly come up with a much better one that was geared toward those that were soon to be laid off. The list seems like a haphazardly thrown together bunch created to get to 101 saving ideas rather than to help someone who is facing no job.

While I don’t know what the rest of the packet looked like and what information it provided, talk about carrying over insurance with COBRA and the cost of that, what options are available with 401k plans and the costs of those options, unemployment insurance and other financial topics would seem much more appropriate.

The other thing that bothers me is that the entire episode gives another black eye to saving money which is by far the best investment most people can make. Most people aren’t going to look at what the employees found offensive and link the “saving money” and “degrading” terms together since that is what is being reported in the news. A shame all the way around since those that will be losing their jobs likely do need personal finance advice and to look at ways they can cut their expenses while they are looking for new employment.

This entry was posted in Budgeting, Education, Personal Finance, Saving Money, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Saving Is Degrading – Northwest Airlines

  1. Phil says:

    This whole event has been weird. While I don’t see anything wrong with a company giving advice on saving money, I would like to see them do it with a little smarts. Instructing someone to go hunting in the trash is just plain dumb.

    “46. Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.”

    It speaks to a lack of QA on Northwest’s work. You never simply take what your vendors give you and publish it. You need to do a whole round of acceptance testing. OK, I’ll get off of the soapbox. :)

  2. Madame x says:

    Saving money shouldn’t be degrading, but if I had just been laid off, I would kind of take this as a slap in the face. I’d probably want to send it to Northwest’s CEO and board and ask them if they were following all these rules so they could take pay cuts and save a few jobs.

  3. D says:

    Why not instead offer them free head hunter services, additional training, group discounts for needed placement services, free resume preparation, referrals to like positions at other companies, etc.etc.

    Bunch of jerks, to big for their britches.

  4. guest says:

    “94. Buy software at computer fares.”

    I love that they can’t even spell FAIR right. Computer FAIR, not FARE.

  5. Jason says:

    This list is actually not that bad, contains a lot of good tips. You just have to wonder, though, did no one involved in the process ever think of how receiving tips like this that are really unrelated to their job less might be received? It just seems like it should have crossed someone’s mind that this is going to look extremely crass.

  6. samerwriter says:

    I don’t understand what is wrong with offering a list of common-sense ways to save money. I’m sure it’s one small part of a larger severance package. It’s low-cost for the company, and potentially helpful for the former employee.

  7. deepbluesky says:

    Lots of great tips, unfortunately they are nothing new. Most of us with common sense know them already. This list is nevertheless an arrogant and insulting way to talk to your future ex-employees. Northwest Airlines, here is my observation : your CEO claims that ,in spite of the impending strike, passengers can book on NW in all confidence, but at the same tine you claim that you will need to liquidate in case of flight attendant strike. My conclusion? Your PR skills realy suck.

  8. pisspaws says:

    this is just a way of assuaging people they are canning. no tact.

  9. Dingobiscuit says:

    “1. Set your thermostat to 64 and turn it down to 60 at night.”

    Are they crazy??? We set ours 78 during the day and 76 at night. My elecritc bill (Dallas, TX) was high enough even at those levels.

  10. Dingobiscuit, NWA is headquartered in Minnesota, and they’re talking about winter thermostat settings.

  11. lexi says:

    Dingo, I think they are referring to up north, or in the winter. No, you wouldn’t want to set your air conditioner that low, but the heat, I personally (a very cold always bundled up kind of person) would be sweating to death at 78 or 76 degrees in the middle of winter! I do keep my air conditioner set at 75, but in the winter with it that cold outside, it would be such an extreme difference, I couldn’t handle the heat of 75 when I walked inside. In the winter, I do keep it at about 65-68. I have a programmable thermostat, so I dont have to remember to turn it down, etc.

  12. mom-from-missouri says:

    I like the one that says to bike to work……

  13. Pingback: Mighty Bargain Hunter » Group writing project: Preparing for or dealing with job loss

  14. Dede says:

    Ok, if I got this list, I would wonder why they thought I was going to be looking to buy jewelry when I just got laid off. I loved the Fair spelling also, (Fare).

  15. Renay Harris says:

    Where did you get this incredibly insensitive list, “Hints from Heloise”? May whoever wrote it, get laid off and do everything on his list!

  16. Kim McMillan says:

    I loved number 53… bike to work… what work?!….and how about number 62, about child care- won’t be needing that either.

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