By Sonya Smith-Valentine
The people who know me well know I don’t like to waste money. I’m always saying I like to keep my money in my pocket — It’s part of my DNA. I believe it comes from growing up in a single parent household where money wasn’t free-flowing. My mom did a great job (thanks mom!), but it’s not cheap to live in New York and raise a kid on one income.
Because I like keeping my money, I tend to ask a boatload of questions whenever I do something important (or maybe it’s the lawyer in me). Over the years I’ve seen where not asking questions caused expensive problems. I’d rather be considered a pain in the butt than have to spend quite a bit of money because I didn’t ask questions.
One time, I forgot who I was. I forgot to ask questions. I trusted what I was told… a costly mistake on my part.
One night, while my car was parked on the street, a driver came along and hit my car. They did considerable damage to the car. This meant the car had to go into the repair shop and I was going to be driving a rental for a while. I was worried that the insurance company would total out my car. I drive a 2007 Toyota Camry — I love my Camry, especially since I paid it off 2 years after buying it (used, of course). I plan on driving it until all 4 wheels fall off and the engine drops out. Luckily, everything went fine with getting my car fixed. Or so I thought.
On a Friday, I picked up my car from the auto body shop and left my rental there. The shop had a relationship with the car rental company that allowed me to leave the rental at the auto body shop. This is where I forgot who I was. I didn’t ask any questions about leaving the rental at the shop. I was so happy to get my car back that I got question amnesia. I handed over the keys to that rental so fast, hopped in my car, and hit the road.
Boy, did I make a big mistake. Since I dropped off the rental on a Friday evening, it sat at the auto body shop for the weekend. I assumed that the rental would have been parked in the auto body shop lot. It wasn’t. The shop parked the rental on the street all weekend. And the rental was damaged over the weekend before it was picked up by the car rental company on Monday. The rental company contacted me a few days later to say they were filing a claim with my insurance for the damage. I was furious and let them know it. The car was fine when I dropped it off and I refused to be liable for the damages. I was upset that the rental company was trying to take money out of my pocket.
Unfortunately, the rental company was right that I was liable. Had I asked a few questions, things would have turned out differently. If I had asked about the process and liability when I picked my car up, I would have found out that I was liable for the rental car until the rental company picked it up on Monday. I would have known that it would be parked on the street for the weekend. And I could have made the decision to keep the rental at my house until Monday (where I could park it in my driveway). But I didn’t ask a single question. I didn’t take the time to read the documents I signed carefully. I totally forgot who I was. And it cost me money.
That rental taught me a lesson, or I should say, reminded me to always be who I am… financially fierce. Because I’m fierce about my finances, I ask questions — lots of them. I don’t care if folks don’t like my questions. I don’t care if folks get annoyed by my questions. If it involves my money, I get to ask as many questions as I want. That day, I forgot to ask a single one. And I’m still mad at myself about it. When we don’t ask question, whether it’s because we’re rushing or because we’re ashamed, it is going to cost money. And that’s no way to live.
Originally published at www.ellevatenetwork.com