First off, the saying “bite your tongue” has always been one that I found kind of funny. Instead of saying something that could offend someone, you just use better judgment and don’t say it. So, watching what you say is described as biting your tongue. Ouch! But, I guess that pain might be less than what could ensue if you express your thoughts in some cases.
I had one of these situations recently when I was getting my haircut. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not one to budget an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a haircut. I’ll generally go to a national chain location, where I find their work to be good. There are a couple of places I would go to locally, the specific choice each time dependent on where I’m at and what my schedule is like.
Anyway, I walked in to one of those places, and after a short wait I was seated for a haircut. The lady cutting my hair was someone I had not seen before, clearly new. That was fine with me, as I had no real preference, so the haircut got started.
Now, I’m totally fine talking with the person cutting my hair. It helps pass the time and sometimes mindless small talk can be a fun distraction. And this lady sure liked the small talk, as she was a real chatterbox. Telling me about her day, and all that good stuff.
Then, she dropped the comb she was using. She apologized, and grabbed another clean one. Then, said “at least it wasn’t my scissors!”.
Being money-minded (big surprise, right?) my immediate comment was “yeah, those are little more expensive.” To which she replied, “oh, you have NO idea! How much do you think they are?”
I guessed $100. Well, I guessed wrong. Very wrong.
“They cost $1,200!” she said.
Who knew? I sure didn’t. That seemed really expensive to me, but I’m not in tune with the hair care business. And oh by the way, she also had another pair of scissors that she said were $600. All of these expenses are apparently incurred by the hair stylist, which makes it sound like a relatively expensive business for someone to get into.
Beyond that, I’m guessing that they have to work very hard for the money they get. For example, I was there maybe 30 minutes for a $15 haircut. With a 20% tip, that’s $3. With back to back cuts, that’s only $6 in tips on top of whatever they might otherwise be paid. It seems like a tough deal for them, really.
Then, after we continued with small talk and my haircut, she dropped a bombshell on me: she got a brand new car! She could barely contain her excitement about it, and I’m guessing most clients had been hearing the same general story. Good for her, I thought! But then, being money-minded, I thought “oh, no….how does one buy a new car on this type of income?”
Well, apparently it was a brand new SUV she bought. How in the world could she have afforded that? Granted, I don’t know much about her financial situation – actually nothing other than what she does for a living. Plus, it’s important to be careful not to judge a book by its cover. But still, it didn’t add up to me.
Then came bombshell #2: she told me that she planned to enjoy it for a long time because she’s paying for it for the next 6 years! That’s right, a 6-year car loan! I suppose a 72-month loan is better than a 96-month car loan, but it’s still way past my comfort level.
She seemed oblivious to the type of move that she made. Burdening herself with debt, on a very modest income, in order to have a cool new vehicle to ride around in. Why not just drive a serviceable used vehicle, and pay cash for a car or just take out a short-term loan? It seemed like she was focusing on wants first, not needs.
This is where biting my tongue came into play. My instinct was to somehow start a discussion of personal finance, to make sure that this person changes her way of thinking to become more responsible. For her own good, I almost wanted to “rescue” her and have her be able to logically understand what constitutes a bad financial decision. Clearly, she needed a personal finance intervention!
However, I then realized that this person had those aforementioned $1,200 pair of scissors in her hands, while I was seated with my back to her. Probably not the best time to get somebody riled up! Just like when I heard a waitress talk about spending a lot of money on eyelashes, I had to curb the comments for my own good 🙂
Sometimes, we have to pick our spots when it comes to giving advice. Even if we feel we are right, and simply mean well!
My Questions for You
Have you ever heard someone talk about a purchase or investment, and find yourself thinking something along the lines of “wow, what a bad decision”?
What would you do in such a situation: bring it up and risk offending the person, or just let it go and let the person figure it out for herself?