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I have a confession to make. I am a paranoid person, especially when it comes to safety.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m obsessed with detective TV shows like Forensic Files or if I’m just chicken and not adventurous enough.
But fear has prevented me from taking many actions in my life.
In many cases, it is a good thing because I am always cautious and weigh the pros and cons of an action before taking it.
However, it has also prevented me from seeking thrill as well as saving lots of money in life.
I am not so much into thrill. But the failure to save money really bothers me.
Related: 3 Weird Things We Do To Save Money
Give me a scenario, and I will tell you some of the worst things that can happen in that theoretical situation.
Going clubbing at night?
Some creep might follow you all the way to your house and stalk you for days to come.
They might also attack you right at the club without anyone else knowing.
Selling stuff on Craigslist?
A couple with their baby wanted to buy a used camera they saw on Craigslist and were kidnapped by the seller at gunpoint (Google: Project Miranda).
Wanting to buy stuff on Craigslist? The seller might lure you into their house where other people are ready to ambush you.
Your basement has a glass window? A thief can easily break it to enter your house.
The list goes on and on.
But on January 23, 2018, I overcame by paranoia to do something for the every first time in order to save money: taking a Lyft ride all by myself.
I had taken Uber twice before. Both times I was with Mr. FAF. I had never taken Lyft or Uber by myself prior to that date although Uber has been in existence since 2009 and Lyft since 2012.
I felt so behind with technology, apps, and millennials. But I let my paranoia win. I didn’t want to be kidnapped or murdered by an Uber or Lyft driver and make headlines the next day. Just Google those key words, and you will see it has happened before.
And I miraculously avoided situations where I had to take Uber/Lyft whether it was going grocery shopping, visiting a friend, or going to a party. If I couldn’t take the public transit, walk, or get a ride from my friends, I wouldn’t go, period.
In a way, it helped me save money because taking Uber, though cheaper than a cab, is definitely not cheap. A 20-min ride can easily cost $30. On the other hand, it also limited my mobility and social life since I didn’t own a car when Mr. FAF used to live in anther city.
My first Lyft ride alone
On January 23, 2017, I had a doctor appointment on a weekday. I spent hours trying to book a visit at a doctor office near my work place or at home just to avoid taking Uber/Lyft.
In the end, however, I still had to get a short ride from the Metro to the appointment. Mr. FAF was at work with the car. I had no choice but to turn to Uber/Lyft since it’s cheaper than taking a cab.
Mr. FAF suggested I try Lyft since it’s cheaper than Uber. He then referred me to the app, set it up on my phone, and got us each a $5 referral fee ($10 in total).
When I got off the train that day, I was a bit skeptical of my decision to take Lyft still. What if the driver kidnaps me and sells me to someone? I tried to assuage that fear by not thinking about it.
When I got off the train and opened the Lyft app, my heart was beating faster than usual. I was a pregnant woman all by myself and soon would be in the same car with a stranger.
My husband knew where I was going, but he was so far away. I entered the drop-off location. The driver arrived within one minute and was polite.
While waiting, I kept checking the license plates of all the nearby cars to make sure mine had arrived, and that I wouldn’t hop into the wrong car and be driven off to an unknown place (told you I’m paranoid).
During that brief 5-minute ride, I sat in the back seat and didn’t talk much.
The driver double-checked the address and didn’t ask any other questions.
When I arrived at the hospital, I just wanted to message Mr. FAF immediately and tell him I was safe and sound.
The whole experience turned out to be much better than I had expected.
Both the driver and I were tracked on GPS by Lyft. He knew where I was waiting, and I knew when he was coming to pick me up. The total ride was $6.80. I applied the $5 credit and ended up paying $1.80 for the ride (frugal win!).
Would I take Lyft or Uber alone again? The answer is a resounding yes if there’s no other economical option (i.e. walking, public transit).
Related: How To Be Lazy, Frugal & Happy
Technology is just amazing! It is living proof that you need to invest in a product to make money and help others make and save money.
And my experience is also proof that sometimes I just need to be more open-minded and risk-tolerant to save money and enjoy the great things life has to offer.
There are apps out there that I wouldn’t want to try such as Tinder even if I were single (nothing against Tinder users. I’m just paranoid like I said). But anything that comes with GPS tracking and/or background check (aka transparency) is worth a try.
When I link my experience to investing, I realized that keeping savings in all cash just because it’s the most secure won’t yield me a good return. I need to take risks and dive into different forms of investment to know what works best for me. Living in a bubble won’t get me rich.
At the same time, before I invest my hard-earned money into something, I need to make sure that the fund has a good reputation like Uber and Lyft. It needs to have a certain level of transparency (i.e. GPS tracking, vehicle safety check) and a good track record of benefiting customers/investors.
And most importantly, I need to understand the product and all the risks and benefits that come with it.