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Honoring My Foster Dad Saved Me over $8700

Picture it Las Vegas, June 2019. A former foster youth visits Las Vegas for the first time to celebrate finishing graduate school classes, cross an item from my life goals list, and ‘fill in the reasons why grown-ups go to ‘Vegas Baby!’… I digress. 

​As someone who doesn’t drink, club, or gamble. You’d wonder why I wanted to come to ‘The Strip’ after that last sentence. Las Vegas’s reputation is to be for grown-ups what Disneyland is to children because of the endless drinks while gambling. Wrong. 

Vegas Baby!

Vegas is also known for the dearth of talent aka residency shows. Beyonce, Mariah Carey, New Edition, Cher, Celine Dion, magicians, and comedians are available for a smorgasbord of entertainment. So where Vegas costs a lot for the average adult who partakes in the libations and rolling the dice I just thought it’d be nice to visit, try to find the library, and catch some shows. (Visiting all the libraries in America and one in every country is on my ‘that’d be amazing’ life list.)

Where I normally ignore billboards I scanned each one from the airport to the resort looking for something fun to do. After a few semi-promising options my mind turned to plans to scour my normal source for information, after recovering from my flight. Between the time change and immense number of people I wanted to stay in my room until the next day. The way the Vegas goal to get you out of the room and into the casinos is set up that didn’t happen, so I changed my goal to find something delicious to eat, put together a plan to have some fun the next day, and relax in the room until the next morning.

While coming back in from finding some vittles I was approached about my interest in seeing a show. Twenty minutes and fifty bucks later I was signed up for some kind of “pitch” in exchange for two shows and two meals for only $50. Now you may be thinking, NOOO, don’t go. It’s a set up they’re gonna try to sell you something. I know, but it’s vacay, I didn’t have anything else planned and I wanted to see the shows. 

2 Dinners and 2 Shows

​When I saw the show I’d been considering on the list of options I said why not. So I did the math. I came out ahead by paying no more than 2 hours of my time + $50 for two dinners and two shows. The next morning I was corralled into a limo bus to be sold on buying a timeshare. This company claimed not to hardsell, twist your arm, and a myriad of other things they proceeded to do in addition to keeping me WAY past the 120 minutes they told me the presentation would take.

After a presentation including every negative emotional marketing manipulation trigger:
Guilt ✔
Time ✔
Belonging ✔

We toured one of the most beautiful rental properties I’ve ever seen. I’d never attended a timeshare presentation before this and will never attend one again, after under 120 minutes turned into five hours of being pummeled, drilled, and annoyed to buy something I never intended to purchase– though they were honest about not literally twisting my arm.

My foster Dad was the Executive Director of Deferred Compensation where I grew up. He taught me everything I know about money, most important he taught me how to find people to teach me more about money.  After living with him in high school, reading Michelle Singletary, Having Our Say by the Delaney Sisters, and Dave Ramsey I’d learned several important lessons about my finances.

1.) Set a dollar amount for impulse purchases. For example, I don’t spend more than $100 unplanned. No matter what or why. This has saved me thousands over the years since before my Foster Dad passed away in 2008.
2.) Treat my credit like an impulse purchase. Which means, I don’t allow my credit to be run unless I planned for it so I don’t make unplanned purchases over $100.

The credit rule came about as a result of my freshman year credit cards. None of the emotional triggers in the presentation related to me. My daughter and I spend intentional time together everyday and on weekends. Being debt free when I travel is more important than being “comfortable” or having my preference of making my own meals. Truth is if you travel a lot I’m not sure why you don’t have a timeshare. They just make better financial sense… if you don’t mind having debt.

But after four hours unfed, tired, ready to go back to the hotel, and based on my travel schedule had I not been living according to the principles I learned from my Dad and the financial gurus he introduced me to over the years I may have walked out of that presentation at the least as a “travel club” member. However I wasn’t able to be swayed. 

Happy Father’s Day

​​Despite the five different sales people they brought to try their different pitch attempts and pressure tactics my Dad’s voice in my ear and financial training kept me strong. When one of the sales people tried to use my intelligence against me I could hear my Dad’s laugh. This guy didn’t stand a chance. Try as he did with all of his might, purchasing a timeshare on the spot with student loan debt and not owning a home… I’d never dishonor my Dad that way. Go back on the word to achieve all the things we’d talked about from his hospital room… that eventually became his deathbed. No. 
Calculating the interest while the fourth guy tried to talk me into the deal I realized that alone was over 1800. For points, to schedule rooms every year… Go into debt to purchase access to rooms in a point system and that would cost me over a minimum of $8700 in interest alone… and dishonor my Dad. No, thank you. I told the representative that was in training and assigned to me “I’m sorry I was one of your first attempts to do this. I’m not the average customer. This is a great program. Just not for me. Please tell the Joel, my principles are not for sale.”

Riding back to my resort I imagined my Dad’s face in heaven, playing chess with his favorite jazz artist and a big smile. I haven’t lived out all of the dreams we discussed. I finished my undergrad studies finally, even finishing up a Master’s degree. That day I saved a minimum of $8700 in interest because of what he taught me, a few weeks shy of father’s day. I couldn’t call him for our weekly book discussion, haven’t been able to do that in eleven years. So I decided to make it my first blog post, in honor of father’s day, as I read my book on the airplane ride home.

Thanks for being a great role model, protector, and financial adviser, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

Nerdy Wordy GiG PowHer News

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