I’ve made plenty of mistakes with money. Ask my wife.
One of the biggest mistakes I made early on in our marriage was signing up for a wholesale warehouse. Later on, I made a similar mistake and bought a timeshare.
My wife was hesitant both times, but I was so sure the purchase would be worth it that I didn’t listen to anything she had to say.
There’s another mistake: not listening to my wife, who was much more financially savvy than I was at the time and can still be more level-headed when it comes to large purchases.
Let’s talk about this wholesale warehouse club thing we joined. It’s called Direct Buy and it cost us thousands.
The High Cost of Small Savings
We had only been married for a year when we received an advertisement in the mail for Direct Buy. Maybe you’ve heard of it. The ad offered a free tour of their showroom.
A free tour sounded great, but we really had no idea what it was. And by the way, we also didn’t really have much money.
I called and scheduled our tour and off we went.
We looked around at the showroom and saw beautiful furniture, home products, and all kinds of things I felt like we needed to have (that wasn’t even on my radar before we went in).
Finally, they brought us into a room and showed a video about how Direct Buy changes your life — how it would change ours.
Everything sounded great. You pay membership dues, which I assumed were a few hundred dollars, and then you have access to wholesale pricing on anything you could ever want.
I remember seeing the testimonials in the video and I saw how those people saved tens of thousands of dollars — in some cases, almost $100k.
And then, like anything that you have to be talked into buying (but probably shouldn’t), they took us to the sales floor. You know, the awkward place where they ask you if you want something to drink, try to become your friend, and then act like you wasted everyone in the world’s time if you don’t buy what they’re selling.
Honestly, I was already sold on the idea before they even started their pitch.
That’s when they told us how much it would cost: over $5,000.
This is Your Only Chance!
We were nervous about the price, but since I had already sold myself on it, I was ready to move forward.
As I said, my wife was hesitant, but I knew she didn’t like spending money in general so I thought she was being overly cautious.
That’s when they told us the other minor detail: we had to make a decision before we left the building.
They told us once we walked out the door, we couldn’t come back and sign up.
The pressure was on… mostly on my wife.
Since I was so sure this would be a great decision, I was trying to talk my wife into doing it. Finally, she told me to do what I want, and just like that, we were members.
We spent almost our entire savings account balance that day and what did we get out of it?
We ended up buying one crib. That’s it. And it was like $300.
Not only that, but the process of getting it shipped to us was horrible. It took forever. It was damaged. It was just the worst.
We made an emotional decision that day. Honestly, I made an emotional decision that day.
A terrible, emotional decision.
We went on to find that the membership prices were about the same as the prices at retail stores. In many cases, it was actually cheaper to buy elsewhere.
I learned several lessons from this experience.
First, I should’ve listened to my wife. That’s not the only time I made a bad financial decision because I didn’t listen to her.
Second, if you have to be sold on something, you probably shouldn’t buy it.
For example, term life insurance is bought. Whole life insurance is sold.
There’s a reason for that.
It’s not just big purchases that matter here. On average, people spend $314/month on impulse buys and the average person would spend up to $310 on a single impulse buy, according to a press release by PR Newswire. 1
What does that tell us about our spending and what can we learn? The most important lesson I learned from the entire experience is this:
If you can’t sleep on a large purchase decision, the answer is no.
We live by this rule now and it has saved us thousands of dollars.
Often, you’re not in the right mindset when you walk into showrooms and sales floors. You need time to process big purchases.
Buyer’s remorse sets in too late in so many cases.
You’ll likely view the purchase from a different perspective if you have time to sleep on it and think it over.
Take timeshares for example. When you’re sitting there with a seller, you’re being told the timeshare maintenance fees are only $500/year, but once you have time to think it over, you realize you’re only paying for one week a year. That means those fees are $500/week.
Same amount. Different perspective.
If it Costs More Than $500, Get Some Sleep
I’m not saying Direct Buy is an evil company. I’m sure if you’re building a $1 million home, you may be able to save $20k or $30k on your kitchen cabinets or built-in furniture, but for the average person (especially a young couple), you’re going to spend far more than you save.
Now I’m glad I made that purchase because it taught me the valuable lesson of sleeping on big financial decisions. It taught me to be present and think through big purchases. It taught me that deals and sales will always be there and that it’s rare to find a deal so good you’ll never see it again. It taught me to admit when I made mistakes.
Maybe it was worth $5,000 for those reasons. I can’t say for sure. But what I do know is that we sleep on big purchases now and that has saved us more money than we could’ve ever imagined.
So now we know. If a purchase is over $500, we sleep on it. If the “deal” is still there the next day, and we still want to buy it, we buy it.
You have to decide what a large purchase means for you. We see it as anything over $500.
Whatever amount you decide, get some sleep before you make that purchase.
Further Book Reading
- Slickdeals. (2022, May 19). Americans Have Increased Their Impulse Spending by 14% in 2022 Compared to 2021, According to Annual Survey Commissioned by Slickdeals. PR Newswire.