Aunty met her then husband when nineteen years of age and wet behind the earlobes.  The two of us were always broke.  There was barely enough money for bills, food and shelter.  At twenty-five years old, I was very pregnant with son number one and terrified at the thought of the looming lack of income.  Then I saw an advertisement screaming, “Free Diamond Watch – limited offer”.  I deserved that watch.  I needed it and wanted it.  All we had to do was phone the 1800 number, qualify as people with money and attend a two-hour time share seminar to buy an ‘incredible week at an amazing resort’.  The internet wasn’t available back then so checking out reviews on the company was not an option.  I am not sure I would have bothered to check anyway.  That watch was mine.

Good news!  After phoning and answering a few questions about the money we didn’t have, we qualified as rich people and drove to pick up my diamond watch.  We had no intention of buying a time share in a resort. I was heavily pregnant and wondering where the next mortgage payment was coming from.  The company had obviously overlooked the point that we had zero dollars available to invest.

We were interviewed for an hour or so by a nice, young chap who told us we had to sign up today because the deal was very good and would not be available tomorrow.  We politely told him we would need time to think about it and when would my watch be coming.  The conversation seemed to go on forever and, because we weren’t caving in, the nice, young chap called in his manager to help us make the decision that would save our lives.  The boss wasn’t quite so young or quite so nice.  Still, we didn’t budge and still no watch appeared.

That manager then called in his manager who was positively awful.  He bullied us and said we must sign up now.  I told him we weren’t going to sign anything and asked where my watch was. Eventually, I got hit in the head as the manager chucked the watch at me and we left as quickly as we could.  The watch did have a diamond chip in it but we needed a magnifying glass to see it.  The strap was plastic and the timepiece stopped working about two weeks after we didn’t sign up.

Warning: If sales’ people have to yell at you and treat you like belly button fluff, the product probably isn’t that good.  Don’t sign up.

Fast forward fifteen years later and a financial adviser visited our house to help us get rich.  Being rich sounded wonderful.  By now we had two little boys, an average income with an above average mortgage and we were still always broke. My spending far exceeded our income.  The adviser showed us the most glossy and expensive looking promotional material.  With all this shine, the concept had to be fantastic.  We were to buy a rental property through him, pay interest only and the rent would pay the mortgage.  The following year, prices would skyrocket and there would be so much equity in the first house, we could buy a second one with no cost to us.  This glorious state of affairs would go for ten years, by which time, the first five properties would all be worth a fortune.  We would sell those five houses and pay off the remaining five.  Five properties, mortgage free and us very rich.  It sounded incredible.  I am sure we would have signed up right then but there was just something fishy about those glossy fliers.  Someone had paid for that advertising material.  Looking at the adviser’s flashy suit and car, I didn’t think it was him.  We thanked him and declined the offer.  He yelled at us poor people and left, leaving us again feeling like belly button fluff.  Those same properties are worth less today than they were back fifteen years ago. Remember, if it looks dodgy, feels dodgy, it is probably dodgy.  Don’t sign up.

In today’s technologically advanced world, we have more information at our fingertips than we can absorb.  We are so lucky.  We have zero excuse to let our hearts rule our heads as we consider all options available to us.  Refuse to act on impulse or at least investigate potential consequences of your actions. Take time to research your topic so you are well aware of all benefits and lurking drawbacks, because every decision you make will always have both positives and negatives.  Any risk you now take now is a calculated one.  It might be as simple as which restaurant is best in your area.  Read the online reviews and ask friends for recommendations, while remembering these are only someone else’s opinions.  Listen to your gut and do your homework.  There is always a balance between ‘Just do it’ and ‘Just think about it’ but give some time to making better and informed decisions.

Do your research.