A friend and I went shoe shopping in Herald Square this week. I thought I was good at haggling, but watching her work the sales associates made me feel like I’ve overpaid for everything my entire life because I just didn’t take it there.
“Are there any deals or discounts we should know about?” she would start. This is how far I usually got.
They would usually shake their heads. This is where I would usually stop.
“Hmm, what about anything online that we could use, buy something through you and help out your store?” she persisted.
At this point – yes, only two questions in – the sales associate would stop someone walking by who was (usually) more senior and ask about any discounts.
This is where the magic would. Now you have two people turning their wheels to see if they could make us happy. Or at least stop the uncomfortable line of questioning.
You could see the backflipping going on in their heads in terms of what they could offer and what they wanted to offer. “Well, we do have 15% off your next purchase if you sign up for our email list, but I can give you 15% off today’s purchase.”
We both look at each other and I have no idea what she’s going to say next.
“Hmm, well,” she starts. “She’s getting married, is there some kind of wedding discount?” We all start laughing.
At this point, a third sales associate has walked by and is laughing. “Yeah, I heard that too. Wedding discount.” She shakes her head and leaves her colleagues to deal with us.
We leave the store with a good story and no shoes we didn’t need.
There’s this great article going around about building a F*ck Off Fund (basically another name for an “emergency fund” or “long term savings” but with a little extra emotional charge behind it), so you never feel financially stuck in a situation that isn’t good for you. Whether it’s a bad relationship, a job you hate, or an actual emergency, building up a FOF is incredibly empowering.
I’d like to add another step.
While you’re building up your FOF, consider building up your financial self-advocacy at the same time. Did reading the shoe discount story made you cringe a little or wonder why it was worth all the trouble?
Here’s the secret. It has nothing to do with getting the discount or saving money. This story is about getting comfortable asking for what you want and being okay with walking away.
It’s about finding small, harmless moments in your life where you can practice speaking up so when you find yourself in a major financial situation – whether it’s quitting your job, asking for a raise, or leaving a live-in partner – you know how to navigate the uncomfortable conversations with grace and power.
Last week, we had Suz, the Rock/Star Advocate on the show, dropping some serious knowledge on how artists can speak up for themselves and not get taken advantage of. Most of the advice can be applied to our personal lives too.
A huge part of being in control of your finances is actually feeling in control. And a huge part of feeling in control is knowing how to being your own financial advocate on a daily basis. Whether or not you get what you want, it will still feel like a victory.