Interview Series – Bible Money Matters
September 22, 2011
Today’s interview about money bullies is with Peter Anderson, the guy behind the site Bible Money Matters. Peter started the site several years ago to talk not only about personal finances but also, as you might have guessed from the name, how his faith impacts his money decisions.
Peter has actually grown Bible Money Matters into a part-time business and wrote an ebook to shares the steps he took to grow a following of readers and earn some side money from the site. He’s also quite a social guy online, you see him a lot on Twitter (@moneymatters), which is the topic of his roundtable at the upcoming Financial Blogger Conference.
Today, Peter shares with us some pretty sizeable lessons. Cars and homes are some of the most expensive things you’ll likely buy in your lifetime. Spending decisions like those aren’t something you want to be bullied into so read on to hear how he handled his money bullies.
1) Describe a time that a person or company tried to take advantage of you financially and what you did to stop them.
My wife and I were recently looking to replace our small 4 door Honda Civic with a larger vehicle because we had our first child just over a year ago. We’ve been managing with the smaller vehicle for a year now, but as our son gets older we’ve needed to cart around more things for him wherever we go. We just didn’t have enough room in the little Civic anymore.
We knew what we wanted for our new vehicle, a Honda CRV, but the problem was that they weren’t in as plentiful supply as we had thought. Due to the Tsunami in Japan used Hondas are in shorter supply, and the prices weren’t that flexible. Because of that our vehicle search ended up taking a lot longer than we had thought. We did end up finding several vehicles that fit our criteria, but when we test drove them something just didn’t feel right, or it would smell funny, or the price would just be too high.
After searching for 3 weeks we finally found the vehicle we had been hoping for after an hour drive from where we live. But that’s when the fun started, and we started to feel taken advantage of. I think the salesperson (who also happened to be part owner of the dealership) could sense that we really liked the vehicle – even before the test drive.
Before he would allow us to test drive the vehicle he said he wouldn’t allow us to test drive it unless we agreed to the price. We laughed it off, but he was insistent – and we finally said we wouldn’t have driven that far if we didn’t think the price was OK. After a test drive all we had to do to finalize a deal was to get the vehicle inspected. The dealer wouldn’t allow us to do that and started to verbally abuse us and minimize us, implying we were stupid for wanting to get an inspection done.
I think the dealer knew we had driven quite a ways to see the vehicle, and thought he could take advantage of us and keep us from taking the extra time to inspect the vehicle – and still get his full price for the SUV. I’m sure his tactics had worked plenty of times before and others had given in and bought – but we wouldn’t back down. We were not feeling good about the transaction after his bullying tactics. We walked off the lot right there. If you don’t feel good about a deal, listen to that voice inside of you, and walk.
2) Describe a time you were bullied into a financial decision (by a person or a company). How did it end up impacting you and if you could go back in time how would you handle it differently?
One time I think I felt a little bit bullied into a financial decision was when buying our first home 9 years ago. The people doing the deal weren’t very detail oriented and had made some mistakes on the Good Faith Estimate that they sent over.
When I pointed out that the GFE and the final documents had different figures on them they tried to brush over it and try to tell us how they were essentially the same. By this point we were already at the closing and I was feeling a lot of pressure to just sign the documents and figure out the details later. In the end I did end up just signing the closing documents, and finalizing the deal.
By just giving in and finalizing the deal it probably ended up costing us a few hundred dollars in closing costs. Thankfully the error didn’t include the principal and interest on the home which could have had a much bigger financial effect. If I were to go back and do it over I would have insisted that the closing documents be corrected, and that they remove the extra fees – and I would have examined them a lot closer the first time around.
My advice, if you don’t understand something completely, don’t sign it.
Thanks to Peter for sharing! I’ve been in somewhat similar situations when buying a car and a house. Since they’re such big ticket items, the people making the sale and lending the money have a lot at stake and probably won’t be afraid to try and pressure or intimidate you into making decisions that aren’t in your best interest.
Not that all car salesman, realtors, and loan officers are that way. I’ve had the good fortune of working with ones that were honest and fair. A big part of it is doing your research before you decide who to work with.
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