I made a mistake with our money recently. Now, I’m not a financial guru, so don’t understand this story as being financial advice. But I cost us a couple hundred dollars by switching a retirement account from one bank to another. And the higher expenses were only going to continue unless I acted.

(Some would argue that the higher expenses were because they were taking better care of my account, so again, this isn’t advice, just my experience… And in my experience, I decided it would be wisest to switch the account back.)

Moving the money back to my original bank would mean a hassle. I’d have to:

  1. Call my original bank (twice, it turns out…) and ask for help filling out the forms.
  2. Call my new rep to tell her to never mind about some of what I’d asked her to do.
  3. Call my new bank again to have them make adjustments to the account so I could switch it back.
  4. Go get a statement photocopied.
  5. Stop at the post office to buy the extra postage required to mail the packet to my original bank. 
  6. And, of course… Admit I was wrong.

Not a good time, but my side of it all is done now. Whew!

I wish I could say it was the first time I’d gotten myself in a situation with a business where things didn’t turn out like I thought they would, but I’ve had to press the escape hatch before. I’ve had to quit jobs, switch banks, and shop elsewhere.

A small-scale example: When I went to France with my high school class, some students and I took a seat in a classy cafe for dinner. Our teacher arrived and deemed the place too expensive. She walked out. We felt some obligation to stay because we’d already sat down and gotten menus, but we figured out that we’d made a bad choice, and so we (and our red faces) followed her out. 

Sometimes, deciding to end a business relationship is hard, and I think it’s because when we engage with a business, there’s usually someone who is the face of the business, be it our bosses, our favorite barista, our financial adviser, the waiter, etc. That relationship (or the prospect of losing face) can make us feel obligated to stay with the business even if it hurts us.

But there comes a time when we need to run anyway. It’s not personal. It’s business. The people we deal with there may be lovely, wonderful people, but they earn a paycheck for helping us, and our decision to stay or leave affects us more than it affects them. It’s our money on the line. It’s our ability to live our lives. It’s our consciences. We’ve got to do what’s best for ourselves, even if it means awkwardness, inconvenience, or a little life upheaval.

I’m not saying to give up on people or things at the drop of a hat–commitments are a big deal to me! But when you’re doing business or earning a paycheck, remember that it really is just business, and you’re the one who has to live with the consequences.

Have you ever gotten yourself into a situation like this? Was leaving easy or hard?

Your Sister