A Truly Scary Money Mistake

money mistake(This is a guest post by John Wedding, who blogs at Mighty Bargain Hunter and loves helping people to recognize life’s good deals.)

It’s my pleasure to write a post for Money Smart Guides as part of a Yakezie Blog Swap. (Jon’s post is on my blog today.)

If you believe in celestial karma colliding with cosmic bad luck, then the moons align to make Friday the 13th a very, very, very bad day. Or, if you’ve seen any of the hockey-mask Jason movies and taken them just a bit too seriously, then Friday the 13th can be a very, very, very bad day. (At least they don’t happen all that often.)

And — what a coincidence! — today is Friday the 13th. Since our schtick is personal finance, I’ll share a truly scary money mistake I’ve made with you.

The worst money mistakes happen in slow motion
I’m a musician. I’ve played piano for most of my life. About three and a half years ago, my wife and I moved into a house that finally gave us enough room to have a decent-sized piano.

So, when a post came up on a local Facebook bargains page for a baby grand piano, my wife told me about it, and I got very interested. We messaged the person selling it, and she offered to deliver the piano for free. (I didn’t catch this at the time, which I’ll talk about later.) It was apparently in great shape.

We arranged a time, and she delivered the piano as promised. “Merry Christmas!” the owner said as she practically jumped out of the truck. I went in the back of the truck to play it.

I’ve never played a piano that was in worse shape than this one. I couldn’t even tell what key the thing was in. Some of the keys stuck. Some of them didn’t even play. It was incredibly dusty — no, dirty — inside on the soundboard. It was barely worthy of being set on fire and launched from a trebuchet. (Yes, people really do this!)

And after seeing this piece of garbage first-hand, I opened up my wallet and paid $1,500 for it. Full asking price.

That’s not the scary part, though.

The scary part was that I regretted buying it even before they had unloaded the thing. I knew that I had screwed up — and royally. It was like that linchpin movie scene — the one that kills off one of the main characters — that happens in slow motion. The soundtrack is muffled, and others are yelling “NOOOOOOOO!!!” in a creepy, slowed-down voice.

Buyer’s remorse doesn’t do it justice.

A few days later, I got it tuned. It helped a bit, but it revealed more problems with the piano. Then I got an estimate for repairing the problems. Four thousand, minimum.

I tried to sell the thing for almost a year. No takers. Every day, I looked at that thing, and it bugged the tar out of me. I finally gave it away on Freecycle.

What I learned from this scary experience

  • Don’t buy tired. I do recall being a bit tired when the lady arrived with the piano. It’s easy to be convinced of things when you’re tired. She was a fairly good salesperson.
  • Make the trip out to see the item. I offered to come out to look at the item, but the lady offered to bring it by. That was a mistake on my part. I lost some control of the situation. Psychologically, I owed her something because she had brought out the piano. Had I taken the drive out to see it myself, it would have been easy to walk away.
  • Trust your intuition. This was the biggest money mistake of all I made. I have all the experience in the world with pianos, and I threw all of it out the window. I might have been fooled had I been buying something else, but every fiber of my being knew that I was buying trouble with that piano. And I ignored it.

Care to share any scary money mistakes of yours in the comments? What did you learn from the experience?

2 thoughts on “A Truly Scary Money Mistake”

  1. And when you KNOW how to play the piano – a bad one sounds SOOOOO bad.
    I felt sorry for you even before i got to the end of this post.
    Very true what you say about losing control of the sale by allowing someone to bring a piano to you rather than you going to see the piano.

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