You probably have a workout buddy. You might have a dieting buddy. Maybe you are part of a moms' support group or a car pool. Perhaps you decided to run a half-marathon this year, but only after one of your friends promised to train with you.
So why don't you have a stop getting ripped off buddy?
We all know the power of social commitments and positive peer pressure. It's oh so much easier to wake up at 6 a.m. and go running when you know a friend is waiting for you at the corner --- and you'll face her mocking wrath if you don't show.
We also know that everyone hates overpaying for credit cards, pay TV or cell phone service -- yet we're all busy and hate the hassle of fighting back. We're distracted, we dread all the time spent listening to hold music, we fear rejection. We know we should, but we just don't get around to it.
Now's your chance to take a stand.
We're going to harness the power of public commitment to motivate one other to take on unfair fees and charges. Today, we're starting a new msnbc.com feature -- the Red Tape Fight Pledge. Click now to join a Facebook group devoted to helping you take on companies and monthly bills that just aren't right. Pledge to spend one hour in the next 30 days fighting against a company that's trying to take you to the cleaners, then come back and tell everyone how you did. Your stories will be part of upcoming msnbc.com Red Tape Chronicles reports.
But more important, you'll have made a public commitment to make that phone call or write that letter you've been putting off. To give up that one lunch hour to make sure your cable company isn't overcharging you. And you'll swap success stories and tips along the way. Found a phone number that worked? Great. Have a Web site that helped you find the right customer service department? Tell everyone. And if you hit a brick wall, share that too. You might find an answer from a compatriot here.
To kick start the effort, here's a few ideas:
*This month I will call my pay TV company and tell them I want the same discounted deal they give new customers. Why should I be punished for being loyal?
*I'll research a new credit card. My bank has hiked my rate and lowered my limit, so it's time to shop around for new plastic. I tried 6 months ago, but I think it's time to try again. Things may have changed.
*I hate my bank, so I will research small community banks and credit unions. I hear it takes a little effort to switch, but one solid lunch hour might be enough.
*I will carefully examine my 401(k) holdings. I've heard that some mutual funds have high expense ratios, and that those fees could eat up one-third of my retirement fund before I reach 65. I will switch to low-cost index funds instead.
There are plenty of others. So jump over to the Facebook group now and leave your pledge. And remember to come back within a month and tell us what happened. We'll offer helpful reminders right in this space.
Now, fight for your money!
CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE 'RED TAPE FIGHT PLEDGE' on Facebook.
(In this case, comments won't be accepted on today's blog. Place your comments on the Facebook group, please.)