Interview Series – Cash Money Life

September 1, 2011

Ryan Guina shares his experiences with money bullies in this edition of the interview series. In case you missed the explanation of the series, I’m interviewing the speakers at the upcoming Financial Bloggers Conference.

As you’ll read in his answers Ryan is a former military man and now runs a site called The Military Wallet where he covers financial topics for those who serve our country and move wherever in the world Uncle Sam asks them to go.  He also runs the personal finance website Cash Money Life that covers personal finance and career topics for the rest of us civilians.

Thanks to Ryan for taking the time to share his experiences with money bullies, hopefully you get something out of the way he handled the situations.

1) Describe a time that a person or company tried to take advantage of you financially and what you did to stop them.

I don’t have much patience for bullies or people who try to take advantage of me in any form. If someone resorts to bullying, I simply leave. My time isn’t worth putting up with that in any form. And to be quite honest, I don’t want to give that kind of person or company my patronage.

Things are different when you are working though. When I worked in a grocery store during high school someone came in and tried to play the “change game” with me. I don’t know the exact name for it, but that’s when a con man buys a small item and tries to confuse you by mixing multiple transactions into one with the ultimate goal of getting back more money than he gave you.

I eventually cut him off, took all the store’s money back and told him to go to the customer service counter to get change. Of course, the change wasn’t as important to him at that point and he left the store. Here is a YouTube clip of something similar in action (use this as a line of defense only!).


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?

I can’t say I’ve ever been bullied into making a major financial decision that I regretted, but I’ve had people try to strong arm me or bully me into making financial decisions that weren’t right for me. The example that first comes to mind (and most infuriates me) is when I was car shopping several years back. I was 25 at the time, and still in the military. I was thinking about buying a used BMW and I found two fairly comparable models in terms of year and mileage, but there was a large price difference.

I asked the salesman at the dealership with the more expensive car if they were willing to come down on the sticker price, and he acted as though he would be doing me a favor if he sold me the car for sticker price! Then he pulled all the standard tricks, the four-square model, talking trades, financing, etc. My response to his charade was to ask him for a firm price on the vehicle, and then we could work out the other details. Of course, he wouldn’t name a price.

He practically called me a liar when I quoted the sale price of the similar car (same year, similar miles, a new set of brakes, and a few thousand dollars cheaper) at the nearby BMW dealership. He stopped short of actually using the word liar, but he said I must have read the number incorrectly, there were hidden fees, they would rip me off on my trade in, or a dozen other reasons.

As I was getting up to leave he asked me to stay and he brought his manager in to talk prices with me. His manager claimed he was an Army veteran and he would treat me right. He didn’t. It was more of the same, and he too practically called me a liar when I quoted the price of the comparable vehicle. But since we were both veterans, he decided he would “hook me up with a deal” on their car and he knocked $500 off the price and handed me a sheet of paper to sign indicating it was a done deal. He tried the bullying tactic with me again and I got up and walked out. They called me multiple times over the next few days until I told them I bought the other BMW.

In the end I actually bought a Mazda, but I wasn’t going to give them that satisfaction!

I don’t respond well to strong arm tactics or high pressure sales. My time is just too short, and my self-respect too high. But I guess some people do respond to these tactics, because they continue to occur.

The only thing I would have done differently would have been to leave the dealer ship much sooner.

To tie these two questions together, I think the most important thing to remember is to be assertive with your money and your financial decisions. There will always be someone out there looking to take advantage of you in some way or another.  It’s up to you to be proactive and be on the lookout.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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