Say no to 'unli' offers (unless you really need it)

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Jul 08 2019 08:24 AM

It seems everything on offer today assumes consumers want their cake and to eat it too. And not just one slice but as many slices as they want until they raise their hands in surrender.

We were passing by a popular restaurant known for their crispy chicken recipe and saw many cars on the parking lot, and what appeared to be a long queue of hungry customers. Turns out they were offering an eat all you can on their famed chicken dish for only P399. If you’re bringing quite an appetite to the table, that must sound like a great deal.

From Eat All You Can Spaghetti to Unlimited Rice to Text and Calls to All Networks, we are being bombarded with promotions that hope to reel us in with a flat rate to enjoy what we want and the sky’s the limit.

I confess that once upon a time I would say yes to such offers and not take the time to do the math as to whether that offer was right for me. At one point, I had more subscriptions than I knew what to do with, and paying bills monthly for services I do not really need.

Today, I’d like to think I am smarter with my spending and a quick look at my monthly bills should prove that. Next time such an offer comes to you, go through the checklist below before opening your wallet.

#1 Buffet eating versus healthy eating

Let’s start with the most tempting of offers – all you can eat meals until you have a food baby. It’s hard to say no to unlimited food, and people tend to come with hearty appetites. What’s more, all you can eat dining offers are now available at a wide range of prices to suit anyone’s budget. You can have unlimited Korean BBQ meats at P499 or if you want to splurge, try hotels for buffets with more culinary choices starting at P1,500.

When to say yes? Occasional treats should be fine, but always take note that your health should come first. If you have a cholesterol problem, stay away from the fried foods. If your sweet tooth has raised your blood glucose levels, watch the carbohydrates and eat responsibly.

One reason to say no (aside from healthy eating) is the battle between quantity and quality. You will always get what you pay for, so if you are paying less, consider how (and where) the restaurant is making its profits. 

A personal turn off is when I learned about restaurant waste, and buffets are one of the worst perpetrators. As a rule, leftover food is thrown away and not given to employees or charities to keep the staff honest when they plan estimated number of diners. And for a country where many children go to bed hungry every night, knowing that 1.3 billion tons of food go to waste each year as reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization did not sit well with me. Of course, not all of these come from buffets, but we can suspect they do contribute.

#2 Happy hour can turn sad

There’s a Hawaiian beer company that launched an ad campaign arguing to switch happy hour into sad hour, and then the rest of the day will all be happy drinking hours.

It was a hilarious piece of advertising, but I doubt anyone who would drink for 23 hours would be able to smile let alone laugh from the hangover headache.

Just as you should watch what you eat, pay attention to what and how much you drink. And this is true not just for alcohol but even for unlimited sodas and other sweetened beverage. They are all taxed heavily for a reason: they have low to zero nutrient value and you are better off with water (your wallet too because water is mostly free).

#3 One (mobile) number to rule them all

I own two cellular phones and maintain two mobile numbers with two of the leading networks. My excuse then was to ensure I can always make calls and reach my family. So if one network had poor cellular coverage, I will use the other one.

But that excuse no longer holds true today, and worse, I discovered I have been paying for unlimited calls and texts to all networks with both phones! I tried to cancel one but turns out I am on a 36-month contract (watch what you sign!) so I need to wait it out a few more months before I can stick to one phone, one network, one number, and most importantly, one bill to pay.

#4 Who needs unlimited data? Probably not you

Unless you are running multiple software and processing tons of data, you do not need maximum speed and an unlimited data plan on your mobile phone. 

Data here refers to the kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes that you consume when you use your smartphone to surf the internet, stream video and music, play games, catch up on social media, and more. Your network provider will measure your usage by the data received by and sent using your device.

You can cut back by monitoring your data usage for the last 6 months. Get the average and then sign up for the right plan. You could also choose to pay for your maximum usage as opposed to the average if you want some wiggle room.

We’re all afraid of overage costs, but note that even unlimited data plans today are not really unlimited. They have caps and you could be surprised on your next bill. So best to know what you need, sign up for the right plan, and monitor usage throughout your billing cycle.

#5 Beware of other unlimited subscriptions too

A self-confessed lifelong bookworm, I thought Christmas came early when I enrolled with Kindle Unlimited. For $9.99 (or about P520), I could borrow 10 books at a time from Amazon’s vast Kindle Unlimited library.

Once signed up, I found out two things that made me regret this: one, I do not have the time to read enough books to justify the monthly fee; and two, the books I wanted to read are not part of the Kindle Unlimited library.

I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson and I hope you learn from mine too. Always read the terms and conditions, be wary of lock-out periods and lengthy contracts, and check the fine print. Ultimately, do not pay for what you don’t need – that money is better saved and invested so you could instead have unlimited options when retirement comes.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.