18 Ways Being Too Nice Is Hurting Your Wallet
It's nice to be nice, but sometimes it comes with a price. If you have trouble saying no to everyone, from commission-earning salespeople to bosses to your own family and friends, you're probably overspending and underearning. Here are several ways your niceness is biting you in the wallet.
1. You Can't Turn Down the Upsell
You don't actually want to add the drink and fries, but you hate saying no. Afraid the Girl Scout will think you're stingy when you decline to add one more box to make it an even $20? Practice in front of the mirror: "No, thank you." (See also: 8 Sneaky Ways You're Being Upsold)
2. You Accept Every Project
Are you the person at work who ends up churning out routine tasks while others pitch their promotion-getting projects? Is it truly "niceness" that makes you acquiesce, or fear of stretching yourself? Next time, tell the boss or your client you are too busy, and save your time for work that benefits you more.
3. You Go to Every Party You're Invited To
Sadly, many invitations nowadays are thinly veiled shakedowns. Your ex-husband's third cousin invited you to her baby shower? Your coworker invited you to celebrate her birthday at a pricey cocktail bar and you know she's expecting her friends to pick up the check? It's okay to skip events that aren't dear to your heart, especially if they are outside your budget or clearly designed to take advantage of you.
4. You Pick Up the Check Too Much
My husband, a certified super-nice guy, would pick up the check at every single meal out with friends if I let him. It's okay to say, "Let's split this." It's even okay to gently remind friends that you picked up the check last time.
5. You Don't Insist on Getting Paid Back
If you are someone who hates to remind friends or your grown children that they borrowed money from you, then don't lend to begin with. And if you are susceptible to hard luck stories explaining why debts can't be paid on time, definitely don't a lender be. (See also: The 16 Cardinal Rules of Lending to Friends)
6. You Worry Too Much About Inconveniencing Other People
You didn't point out to the cashier that your coupon didn't scan because you dread making the people behind you wait. You didn't tell the server that she charged you for a drink that never arrived because your dining partners wanted to get going and you didn't want to cause the restaurant staff a hassle.
It's nice to be considerate, but if these little things are piling up, it might be time to remind yourself that everyone has the right to a complete and accurate transaction before ceding their turn in line.
7. You Give to Every Cause That Crosses Your Path
Giving to charity is a wonderful thing. But make sure you give what you can afford, and that the organizations you fund are the ones that truly matter to you. Don't give to organizations you've never heard of simply because you feel bad that the canvasser is out in the cold ringing doorbells. Remember, this is most likely their job, which they're getting paid for.
8. You Can't Say No to Your Kids
This is probably the most financially ruinous problem on this list, because it snowballs as your kids age. The parents who can't buy a present for a friend's birthday without leaving the store with a toy for their own kid, too? Those are the parents who are going to be stuck paying for their college student's spring break trip and their twenty-something's car payment. Say no early and often. It's good for them, and for your wallet.
9. You Give Away Too Much of Your Time for Free
Volunteer work is great for your community and it can be a great experience for you, as well. It can also be a bottomless pit. If you find yourself cutting back work hours or shelving business ideas because your kids' school or the local animal shelter depends on you so heavily, ask yourself if this is really worth your limited free time.
10. You Don't Confront Companies That Owe You
It might feel unpleasant to call your credit card to complain that a local business double-charged you, but it's a necessary part of being an adult. Let too many little things slide, and you may end up with big financial problems.
I once had an airline fail to book my family's flights, forcing us to rent a vehicle and drive to our destination at the last minute. After the trip, I sent a polite but firm complaint email to the airline, cc'ing the top customer service executive. Friends were amazed when the airline agreed to reimburse me for the road trip expenses in addition to refunding our tickets. I was pleased, but not surprised, because if you are persistent and refuse to let important things go, you should eventually get a fair resolution. (See also: 9 Times You Should Demand a Refund)
11. You Say Yes to Every Potential House Guest
I love having guests, but if they are to eat meals with my family, and expect me to show them around town, including dining out with them, it is inevitable that the visit will cost me money. If a guest is a total mooch on their first visit, they're not getting invited back.
12. You Always Agree to Be a Bridesmaid
Of all the friend invitations, this is probably the costliest. You'll have to buy a dress, possibly travel to the wedding, and host or share the cost of the shower and bachelorette party. Group professional makeup and hair appointments are increasingly the norm as well.
This doesn't mean that money should be the only factor when you decide whether to accept a bridesmaid query. The main factor should be, are you really close friends? Is this invite heartfelt, or were you just asked to even up the number of men and women in the wedding party?
13. Your Arms Are Always Open to Another Pet
One dog is wonderful. Two can be fun. But if you can't go to the shelter without coming home with another pooch, and feeding your menagerie is getting expensive, I have a tip for you: Don't go to the shelter. If you make yourself go broke by taking in too many, all of you will suffer.
14. You Let Yourself Get Overcharged
You hate negotiating with tradespeople and car sales floor staff? Guess what? So does everyone. But in certain transactions, if you don't negotiate, you may get stiffed. You can minimize price gouging and confrontation if you research well in advance, get multiple quotes, and if needed, conduct negotiations by email or phone.
15. You Stay Loyal Even When You Can't Afford Your Service Provider
So the same person has been cutting your hair for 15 years, but now she has a chair in a famous salon and has tripled her price? It's okay to ask for a loyalty discount, even if you feel like old friends. And if she declines and you have to find a new hairdresser, remember that her decision led to the change as much as yours did. It was a business relationship all along, remember, not a friendship.
16. You Buy Stuff You Never Wanted to Help Friends With Businesses
You go to every nail wrap, makeup, and tote bag party your entrepreneurial friend throws, and buy merchandise that ends up piled in your basement. Well, there are more effective ways to help out a struggling friend.
17. You're a Pushover With Employees or Tenants
When my husband and I rented out our home, our first tenants asked us to repair an ancient fan system, even though we had a brand-new central air system. We said yes without hesitating, wanting to be nice landlords, but the repair put us into the red for many months. As we became more experienced landlords, we learned to distinguish between urgent repair calls (broken refrigerator) and "nice to have" requests that we could decline.
With employees, whether it's a cleaning person or middle manager at your business, if you say yes to every request for extra time off or raises, or turn a blind eye to boxes of office supplies disappearing every day, you're going to be in over your head before you know it.
18. You Always Go Along With Friends' Plans Even If it Means Wasting Money
I have lots of friends who are not nearly as frugal as I am. If they are making the plans, we'll be parking our cars in the expensive garage, buying the brand of vodka that's not on sale, and basically spending twice as much for everything than I would have spent on my own. (See also: How to Keep Peer Pressure From Destroying Your Finances)
The nice me wants to stay quiet and just let it be. But the frugal me is not afraid to push that namby pamby wimp aside and say, "Hey. May I suggest parking on the street two blocks away instead of in that garage?" My friends will tell you that I'm a pain about stuff like this, but they still hang out with me, so I must be just nice enough. Or maybe they like how much money I save them.
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