Reading Get Rich Slowly today & wanted to add my thoughts to J.D.'s requests for stories about financial success. My story is less about a specific success and more about a philosophy that has served me well, but I think it still qualifies.
When I was in college I took a class titled simply "Assertiveness." It was about how to get what you want or deserve in most situations. It was one of those rare classes I can point to as having a noticeable impact on my life.
After the first couple of classes, I was looking for an opportunity to be assertive. I found it when a friend of mine and I went to the grocery store and she got charged full price for something that was supposed to be on sale. She said to me," I hate it when they do that. If it's on sale, get it right." But she was resigned to the money being gone. I said, "We're going back!" She thought I was joking, but I said, no, we're going back and we're going to get this straightened out. We drove back to the store, showed the receipt and she got back her $1.50 or whatever it was.
Hardly a stunning financial success, but I was proud of myself, and I've tried to keep that edge on everything I do finance-wise. If I'm buying something and some random charges seem to be showing up below the line of the purchase price, I force an explanation of each one. If I buy insurance, I want to know exactly what each line item means, and then I research it elsewhere to make sure my agent isn't fooling me.
One time I took my car in for a problem and the garage called me later that day and said it would cost $500 for what I knew was a small fix. I said forget it and went to pick up my car. They tried to charge me $125 because they had used some sort of expensive diagnostic equipment to locate the problem. I said, "No one told me about paying $100 up front just to find out what the problem is." The woman said, "We always do this." I said, "OK, but no one told me. I'm not paying that." After we had about a minute stare-down with neither of us speaking, I used the killer line that has helped me in many a tough financial situation: "If you were me, would you think it's fair to be charged $100 when no work was done and no one told you in advance?" People have a hard time lying to this question, even if it's in their best interest, because they can't help but think about how they would really feel if they were the customer.
In this case, the woman sighed and said, "I'll have to call the manager," which led to me saying the same line to the manager, who then glared at me and said, "Fine." No charge.
It's unfortunate, but sometimes you gotta fight for your rights.
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