How to feel like an ass and pay for it too

Last Sunday was not one of my proudest moments with money decisions. recently offered a deal on a studio portrait session with a local photographer. The deal was for $29 and included a 10-inch framed photo and a keychain photo. Oh, goodie! We signed up and went along for the session, which went quite well. We scheduled to return the next week to see the results and select product options (wall art, photo book, etc).

9am the following week, we sat down in the studio to look at the pictures. They were professionally edited and looked slick. Equally slick was the sales process that followed. Numbers were finally mentioned, and “sticker shock” set in as we realized the package would be about 5-6 times more than we expected. Which was nearly $3000! But for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to take control of the situation before I signed us up for anything. And that’s exactly where I went wrong.

I explained to the photographer that “we don’t borrow money” but could probably do the payment plan he suggested (hello?). In the end, I signed us up for the $2,799 package and gave a $450 downpayment out of our savings. Nice one, Jake. You’ve just displayed all the fortitude and intelligence of a carrot.

We spent the rest of the day with this shiny new financial burden looming in the back of our minds, and it was exhausting. The more I thought and reflected upon that decision, the sicker I felt. By the end of the day, I had emailed the photographer requesting to please change the package inclusions and reduce the price. Thank God, he obliged. Still, it didn’t reduce too dramatically, so we’ll hopefully enjoy the photos enough to make up for the “stupid tax” I paid (and will pay in 10 weekly installments).

Lessons I learned the hard way?

  1. Be a friggin’ man: stand up and say NO to making big dollar decisions on the spot.
  2. Decisions involving amounts of $XXX or more, I need to discuss privately with my wife before committing to.
  3. If I can’t pay for it up front, I don’t buy it!!

I still feel like a royal idiot for being an anti-debt guy and then signing up for payments of any kind. Again, not my finest moment.  At least it didn’t involve larger numbers and won’t cripple us. The payments will be gone in a couple of months, but the emotional impact of this lesson should last a lot longer, and keep me much more on guard for next time.

Ever done a deal like this that you really regretted afterwards?


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