Interview Series – Go To Retirement

August 26, 2011

If you’ve ever been to a conference before, you know it’s kind of neat to get a chance to talk to the speakers afterwards and pick their brain.  Usually the people who speak at conference are not only knowledgable but more importantly enjoy talking about their area of expertise and sharing their stories and insights.

This week I’m starting with Mark Patterson of Go To Retirement to kick off a series of short interviews with speakers at the upcoming Financial Blogger Conference.  His site focuses on the issues people face as they go through retirement planning and try to figure out what that phase of life will be like and how to prepare for it.  Mark also shares his personal approach for planning for retirement income over at Fail Safe Retirement.

I didn’t ask the speakers questions relating to their presentations because you may not care about things like the “Intellectual Property Aspects of Blogging” or the many other conference topics that will be covered.  Instead I asked all the speakers the same two questions.  I think they’re general enough that we should get a wide range of answers, hopefully some that are helpful examples to you.  Here they are:

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

15 years ago we applied for a combined construction/permanent loan to finance the construction of the house we now live in.  We already owned the lot but were paying interest on the lot loan. 

After 6 weeks of “we are working on it” responses to my request for approval of the loan, I escalated my concerns up the chain of command.  I was finally told by a bank official that “we don’t make construction/mortgage loans in situations where the lot is already owned by the applicant.”  This apparently was a bank policy. 

It made no sense to me but either way I was furious about not being told that by the loan originator when we applied weeks earlier. We immediately applied for a loan at another bank and were approved in 48 hours. Meanwhile, I demanded that the first bank pay us the $800+ in loan interest it cost for us to wait around for 6 weeks while they said nothing.

When they refused, I sued the bank under a variety of legal theories. Soon thereafter, they paid us our lost interest plus court costs.

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?

It is very hard to bully me about money but 6 years ago we installed new HVAC systems in our home. We were offered a 10 year warranty on the equipment.

When the installation was complete and the final bill presented, I discovered that the so-called ‘warranty” was actually an extra-charge maintenance agreement that required annual maintenance (at additional cost) of the equipment. I should have raised an objection then and there but rolled over and paid it.

If I had to do it over again, I would have insisted on an actual warranty as it was explained to me, not a maintenance agreement. Now, I am super-skeptical about any promises of long-term warranties and cross-examine the salesman to be sure it is not a maintenance agreement in disguise.

Thanks to Mark for sharing his experiences!  It’s not always easy to look back on something you regret and talk about it …. but I’m glad Mark did.  Now if you ever run into a similar situation you’ll know to ask more questions.


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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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