Embarrassment Can Cost Money


I was talking to a friend about her recent home buying experience. Things were going well in the beginning, but as closing approached more and more issues came up. They decided they didn’t like certain aspects of the house as much as they thought they would. Some of the renovations that they wanted to do were going to cost more than expected. Some issues arose at closing that soured the deal (I don’t know the specifics). They even started having second thoughts about the neighborhood. Yet despite all of this, they bought the house anyway. They are now unhappy and stuck.

When I asked why on earth they went through with the purchase, she hemmed and hawed and said, “Well, we felt like we’d come that far and we had to go through with it. I mean, the real estate agents and bankers had spent so much time on us we felt like we had to buy the house. And the buyers were counting on us so they could move to their new house. We mentioned our concerns to our agent and she applied some light pressure, kind of told us we wouldn’t do better anywhere else so we should really get this house. In the end, we just couldn’t walk away.”

The ethics of a realtor who pressures his or her clients into buying a house they don’t love aside, my friend ended up buying a house because she was embarrassed to walk away from the deal at the last minute. That’s all on her, but it’s not the first time I’ve seen something like this happen. I’ve seen it happen on a much smaller scale, such as the woman who buys the dress she doesn’t love to please the salesperson who spent an hour waiting on her. It can happen with everything from clothes, to cars, to houses. Humans are wired to please others and avoid embarrassment (and some of us are more heavily wired that way than others). We don’t want to cause a scene, renege on a deal, cause someone else an inconvenience, or damage our reputations.

Sometimes, though, that’s what you have to do if you want to save yourself some money and avoid financial headaches. The thing to remember is that it’s never to late to walk away from a deal until you’ve signed all the papers and handed over your money (and even then, some states have a buyer’s remorse clause that allows you to get out of certain contracts within a set timeframe). Even if the other people in the deal “hate” you for walking away, you have to remember that it’s your money and your happiness at stake. Your embarrassment will fade, but you’ll be stuck with that house or car for a long time.

Most salespeople, bankers, and lawyers couldn’t care less if you are genuinely happy. Your happiness is not their problem. It’s business. They want their commissions or fees. You have to think the same way. You can’t care whether your realtor has spent weeks putting together a deal, or whether the car guy has spent hours negotiating a price with his manager. Their happiness or commission is not your problem. You have to be happy with the deal or the product. If you aren’t, you need to walk away and find something that does make you happy.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to abuse the people who are helping you. Far from it. Being polite will always get you further than being rude and you may cross paths with these people later and you don’t want them to remember you as, “That rude SOB.” But if it comes down to signing your name to that contract and you aren’t happy with something or clear on the terms, you need to have the courage to say, “No thank you” and walk away. Either that or be willing to go back to the beginning and renegotiate the terms of the deal that are troubling you. You can’t give in to the pressure to just finish the deal, or the desire to spare yourself some harsh comments or rotten looks.

A deal isn’t done until everything is signed and paid for. At any point before that time, you have the legal right to walk away. There’s nothing in the law that says if a realtor has spent two weeks working with you that you have to go through with it, or if you’ve spent an hour in the car dealership that you must now buy a car. Sure, it may be uncomfortable and awkward to walk, but think how much more uncomfortable my friend is now sitting in a house she doesn’t like, in a neighborhood she doesn’t like, and all the poorer financially for the experience. Walk away and don’t worry about what other people think.

(Photo courtesy of quinn.anya)

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6 Responses to Embarrassment Can Cost Money

  1. Julie says:

    I completely agree with you. Not enough is written about this subject. I think people are embarrassed to admit they are embarrased to be firm when shopping.

  2. Chelle says:

    I am guilty of this once in awhile, especially when I have my kids shopping with me. I hate having to say no to everything every time we go shopping, so sometimes I say yes just to avoid for them from making a scene or acting up in the store. It’s definitely something for me to be more mindful of next time we go shopping.

  3. jay says:

    Though much less significant than a house, it’s also true you haven’t bought all those things you unload at the checkout counter. Set them aside if you have any doubts. This includes whatever the kids slipped into the cart.

    If you have buyer’s remorse before driving off the lot (or within a reasonable time period), don’t hesitate to turn around, go back in and ask to return the item. I can guarantee that, nine times out of ten, clerks don’t care about you personally (just doing their job), and won’t judge you. When I realized this, it freed me from those nagging, guilty, “why DID I buy this??” thoughts.

    Same thought pattern if you think an error was made. Now I try to remember to check the register slip before I walk out the door. More than once I’ve gone back and corrected things. Foolish not to; no fault need be ascribed, just a mistake!

  4. jay says:

    Also, this story reminds me of the first time we considered refinancing our home. They insisted on folding the car loan into the new mortgage. This was AT the signing! We signed the papers, but when we talked it through later, we realized what a bad idea it was. Called and canceled the next day. There was a three day window for canceling, so we were released from the loan. The mortgage folks did slam the phone in my ear, but too bad!

  5. Gailete says:

    One of the worst things I ever did due to embarassemnt was going ahead with marrying my first husband. On the wedding day I knew I was making a mistake but was too embarassed to stop the wedding. I went through 13 grueling awful years that started on my wedding night on. The only good thing to show from that marriage was my 2 sons. I’m always so proud of brides-to-be that had the courage to say no at the last minute. They are so brave and no matter how it might hurt, eventually their life will get better, by not making a mistake then. If you know a girl or guy who did this, support them, don’t diss them.

  6. Such great advice! I too can now reflect on moments I know I should have backed out on deals I was literally talked in to. Something as simple as going along with group decisions and even my first marriage which I knew up to the last moment I should not have done.

    I have learned to pay attention to my instincts and gut feelings. Always, always take 24 hours to think about all major decisions, this way you can take the time to weigh the pro’s and con’s. Don’t let anyone else make the decision for you (ie. realtors, salespeople, bankers, etc.) other than making the decision with a partner or spouse. Do what’s best for you and stand by it.

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