Friends, Family and Money
October 13, 2008 by The Constant Complainer
My phone rang the other day. It was a good family friend calling. He started to tell me about his new business endeavor. It sounded to me like he would be doing a combination of life insurance sales and financial advising. He wanted me to attend a presentation he would be doing for potential new clients. That’s when my blood pressure started to rise and it hit me – here comes the sales pitch and pressure to attend the meeting.
I told him that I already had life insurance and a financial advisor. But he told me that it was important for him to get his friends’ support on this new project. I knew that I didn’t want to attend, so I thanked him and turned down his offer. However, that didn’t stop him from calling, e-mailing and texting me the next day, asking if I would reconsider. I knew I wasn’t interested, but the problem is that I used to be.
The Constant Complainer has several rules these days. I never intentionally talk about my financial interests to my friends or extended family. I don’t lend money to friends. And I don’t push my people (i.e. financial advisor, insurance agent, doctor, etc.) on my friends or family. If asked for my opinion, I will gladly share it, but that’s the extent of what I’ll do.
As I said above, this didn’t used to be the case. A short time ago, I made a horrible mistake in this area. A friend called me about some life insurance he was selling. At the time, I didn’t need and couldn’t afford it. But this guy strong-armed me into it. In retrospect, he was a good friend and that’s probably why I let it happen. I bought life insurance for my wife and me. In fact, I bought so much life insurance from him that I didn’t know what to do with all of it. Then, to make matters worse, he told me that I needed to promote his services to my friends and family. He pressured us, to say the least. And my wife and I totally bought into it. We co-signed a letter he then mailed (soliciting his services) to all of our contacts. That was a stupid thing for us to agree to do. Most of my friends said they weren’t interested, but a few did meet with him, of course, due to my referral. Then, much to my dismay, I saw my friends get pressured and over-buy various insurance products just like I did. I ultimately cancelled the insurance, because I couldn’t afford it.
So the question becomes – what are you supposed to do when your family or friends solicit you. In the past, I’ve tried to be supportive. I’ve listened and attended meetings/presentations. I did this even though I had absolutely no interest in purchasing anything. In some cases I did purchase some things that I didn’t need and learned lessons the hard way. All of this was done due to friendships. In several instances, I was even guilty of helping to push the products and referrals. Now I know better and am strong enough to say yes or no. Of course it is still difficult when a friend calls and asks for my support to buy something. Are they taking advantage of me? Maybe. Do they really need my support? Probably. Where do I draw the line? I’ll tell you. I draw the line when the pressure starts, because being supportive of someone is one thing, but a friend or family member pressuring me to buy something I may not need is another…