I know this may sound like a silly question, but I’m curious. As financial blog readers and money enthusiasts do you ever feel the need to lend a helping hand when it comes to money? I don’t mean physically lend money to family or friends, I mean give them money advice.
As a financial planner I give money advice to strangers all day and I usually try to steer clear of the subject afterwards. However sometimes money just follows me around. Anytime my family asks for money tips I completely avoid the situation and whenever my friends want to chat about good deals I’m all ears.
Even after the market closes I still find myself spreading words of wisdom when it comes to money. It’s almost as if I feel an obligation to talk to complete strangers when it comes to money if it means I can help them out. This exact situation happened to me this week. Here’s what happened…
I was trying to mind my own business
Monday night after work I stopped at the grocery store to pick up one item. For those of you who have ever met me you know I’m an extremely impatient person and I hate waiting – especially in line for something. So I grabbed my one item and expected to be out of the store and on my way home within a couple of minutes. Well fifteen minutes later I was still in the store.
I was in line behind a woman whose credit card kept being declined and she kept asking the cashier to swipe it anyway. She was insistent that there were fund available. Why do people do that? Anyways after the fourth or fifth swipe I finally looked up to see the error message on the cashier’s screen.
But then I couldn’t help myself
I injected myself into the situation and said “Excuse me I work for a bank, the error message code doesn’t mean you don’t have funds. The transaction isn’t being declined it’s not being processed, that’s different.” The woman looked at me in awe. I continued on “Are you travelling from overseas? That error code usually appears when you don’t advise the credit card company of your travel plans.”
The woman proceeded to tell me that she arrived yesterday and was visiting from Spain for two weeks; this was the first transaction she tried to process in a foreign country. There we have it. If I would have been a little bit less self involved and actually paid attention a little bit sooner I could have saved myself 15 minutes of waiting in line at the grocery store. Lesson learned.
It turns out my advice was helpful…but unnecessary
Both the cashier and the traveller were grateful for my interjection. I told her she should contact the credit card company right away to avoid this in the future. She was thankful, paid cash and went on her way. Yes that’s right, she PAID CASH.
The entire time the cashier was swiping and re-swiping her credit card the woman had enough cash in her pocket to pay for her groceries. I couldn’t believe it. I almost wanted to say something but thought I shouldn’t counteract my kindness with a snotty remark. I wanted to keep the good karma out there.