How To Be YOUR Biggest Advocate
I was very privileged in my youth to have the opportunity to attend sailing camp. I started when I was a mere 9 years old, and continued throughout high school. I really enjoyed it, and even won a few regattas, though I wouldn’t categorize myself as particularly gifted at the sport. But there were quite a few life lessons to be learned while sailing, and the most important one for me happened while I was sailing at CORK (Canadian Olympic Regatta in Kingston). Here’s the scene:
Paul, at 16 years old, is competing in a regatta that’s known for extremely high winds and extremely ferocious competition. The way you start a race is there’s a specific countdown, and an imaginary line that connects the raceboat to a buoy that’s maybe a couple hundred feet away. As you hear the countdown, you try to go as quickly over the start line as possible. The problem is…
There’s somewhere between 50 and 100 sailors trying to do the exact same thing. And when you have 50 people screaming at you, and your 16 and as timid as I was, it can be quite overwhelming. Needless to say, some of my starts left a lot to be desired.
After one particularly bad race, my coach came up to me in the Zodiac we used, and told me something that frankly revolutionized my life.
He said, “Paul, you have just as much right to be on the start line as anyone else.” Meaning that just because people had fancier boats or cooler sunglasses or frankly just yelled louder than me DIDN’T mean that they had the right to scare me away from the start line.
And this is something that I’ve carried with me my entire life, ever since that day. That I have just as much right to be somewhere, to advocate for myself, to start a blog, or whatever, as much as anyone else. And that’s important to realize for you, dear reader: No one will ever advocate for yourself as much as you will. So get used to doing it.
If not you, then who?
I tell this to my students all the time: if you are not going to stand up for yourself, if you are not going to advocate on your behalf, then who else should be expected to do so? I’m fortunate in that I teach 7th graders and up, so the response, “My mommy” doesn’t come up nearly as often as you might think.
But it’s true: what signal are you sending to the rest of the world when you don’t fight for yourself? Exactly, young grasshopper; that you’re not the kind of person that’s even worth defending.
How does this apply to my money?
Well, let’s think about all the ways that you’d need to advocate for yourself when it comes to your personal finances:
Buying a Car
Alright, so if you’ve been reading this blog for any extended period of time, then you should know at this point that I hate car salesmen, and the industry as a whole. I despise the fact that they keep all the pricing information, that they try to nickel and dime you to death (which really results in you spending hundreds of dollars more than you should), and that most of the time, they’re happy to send you off with a P.O.S vehicle if it gets them a higher commission.
So when negotiating, don’t be afraid to be a complete maniac with them; they’ll most likely have already tried to return that favor.
Removal of Late Fees
This is one of those things that if you don’t know it, you don’t know it. AND it’s one of the reasons that I love my bank so much! Depending on how long you’ve been with you bank, you can feel free to ask for any fee’s to be removed. Things like late fee’s, overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees are all negotiable (whether or not the bank will admit it).
So if you find yourself in a situation where you’re paying $10-$50 fee’s for pretty much no good reason, then call up your bank, explain the situation, and more likely than not, they’ll let the fee slide.
Do Your Research (Salary Negotiation)
OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD please please please at least give SOME attempt to negotiate your salary. There are two main reasons that you really need to do this.
The first is obvious: if you don’t negotiate, then don’t expect anyone to offer you more than your first offer. I like to operate on the, “Never accept a first offer principle.” It’s worked pretty well for me so far.
The second is less obvious, because you wouldn’t see the effects of it for months, maybe even years. Here’s a scenario that I’ve seen all too many times: Someone sits down at an interview, get’s a job, and doesn’t even bother to negotiate. 3-6 months later, once they’ve been at the job for a while long enough to have attended enough happy hours, they learn that there was serious money left on the table. They then either try to renegotiate at a less-than-desirable time, or they stew in resentment until they find another job.
Don’t let yourself be either one of these people. Be the real Slim Shady, please stand up, and advocate for yourself when appropriate!
Checking People’s Math
Allow me to set the scene: it’s a Thursday afternoon, and yours truly is heading to Subway to get some grub. Yes, I’m a financial blogger, I should tell you that I packed my lunch and it only cost me $3.23, but guess what? Life happens.
ANYWHO, I was at Subway, and the guy in front of me was taking roughly 328471932470134 years to get his two sub orders out. Needless to say, I was feeling rather impatient, as I don’t like spending my lunch hour in line at Subway. So, he finally gets to the register, I let out an overly-audible sigh of relief, and leave to this guy to take another 4 minutes talking about how they miscalculated his tab.
I was so hungry, I almost just paid for his lunch. Again, as a financial blogger, I shouldn’t tell you to do those things. As a person… well, the hanger was real.
So as soon as I got some food into my stomach, it occurred to me: This guy had EVERY RIGHT to question the cashiers math. Not only is it a good habit to make sure people aren’t screwing you out of some cash, but as it turned out, this guy was right; they messed up the math.
Even when it’s a few bucks, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. More often then not, you’ll be glad you did!
How To Be YOUR Biggest Advocate – The Wrap Up
It’s amazing how much more “successful” you can be in this world if you just stand up for yourself. And along the same lines, is amazing how much more money you can save/earn if you’re not afraid of a little conflict. So get out in that world, check your receipts, ask for more money, fewer fees, and discounts, and sometimes that’s all it’s going to take.
For more from The Code to Riches, check out:
- The Seven Steps to Avoid Being a Money Moron
- The 7 Vegetarian Meals That Are Saving My Budget
- How Much Is Half A Million Dollars?
- The 10 Best Finance Books Money Can Buy
- 9 Credit Score Hacks You Must Know
- Why I Never Want To Retire
- The Laziest Way to Riches – Investing In Index Funds
- Budgeting Basics – Allocating $$$ Like A Boss
- How to go to Harvard, have awesome sex, and be a billionaire before your twentieth birthday
- 8 Skills To Put On A Resume… That I Wish I Had
Keep trying to crack the code,
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