Meeting hundreds of readers has taught us a lot. Businesses are all on the take. One key thing we’ve learnt is we need to just say ‘no’.
“I’d never talk to my bank if I was struggling. They want me to go into overdraft so they can charge me.” Attendees at Quids in!’s ‘3 Bs’ money events often warn of asking the wrong people for advice. In Bristol, Ali warned others of the dangers of being too trusting. “It’s like everyone is trying to scam us. It’s up to us.”
There is a recurring theme at Quids in!’s money workshops now taking place in Bath, Gloucestershire and East London. It’s the general feeling that everyone is trying to take money off us. Everyone. Everywhere. All the time. In cafes, staff ask if we want an extra pastry. Amazon tells us how people ‘who bought this item’ also bought… insert strange second item here. And pay-weekly furniture stores, like Brighthouse, tell us about cheap payments to disguise the long-term price, the cost of credit and all the add-ons.
The assumption shop staff care about only what we came in for is out the window. We can’t talk to banks about money blips for fear they’ll flog us an overdraft or some other debt to make them money. So number three of the Quids in! Finance 5-A-Day is learning to say ‘No’. Every day let’s teach ourselves to notice we’re being ‘upsold’… and just say ‘No’. They might have targets to achieve but so do we: Spending less!
We shouldn’t beat ourselves up every time we find we’ve spent more than we intended. We should remind ourselves that it’s down to the daily onslaught from upsellers. Just promise to do better tomorrow.
It isn’t just businesses that find ways to relieve us of our cash. It saves government money when we give up easily on using services set up to help us. Even at the Job Centre, if we’re not upfront about what we need and what we can do, it can cost us dear. Signing a ‘Claimant Commitment’ when starting on Universal Credit is something we’ll be held to. Don’t agree to spend 35 hours a week searching for work if the kids need taking to and from school. We have to tell the Work Coach what time we really have or we can have benefits stopped through a sanction. It feels like a trap but it only needs us to defend our financial interests a little stronger.
Even Boris Johnson knows what we’re up against. When interviewed about the Yorkshire floods in November, he acknowledged firms don’t always play fair with customers. “We will make sure the insurers don’t weasel out of their obligations towards flood victims,” he promised.
We have to say ‘No’ when we need to and refuse to be pushed into something not right for us. We must never allow someone to talk down to us like a child, and be prepared not to take ‘No’ for an answer ourselves. Let’s speak up, stand up (for ourselves), and sometimes grow up to have an adult to adult discussion.