Learning from Financial Loss

Losing a large sum of money can make anyone feel physically sick; you know, that feeling in your stomach, where you feel like you have just lost everything. Immediately after a financial loss experience, I grieved the money; I was emotional and frantically called people I trusted. I felt like a complete failure because it could have been easily prevented. Let me tell you a story about a time I lost well over 1000 dollars in less than a week. Some background: I had just graduated from my university and just moved to a brand new city which I have never been to. I moved straight from living with my family into a new country knowing absolutely nothing about living alone and knowing no one. Before the move, I have been looking for a place to live for months and finally locked down a place a week before my departure. I had not actually seen the place but the landlord was nice enough via messaging. I took the plunge and went with it since it wasn’t with an agency, there was no contract (I could leave whenever), and the rent was the cheapest I’ve seen around the city.

When I arrived into my new place, the room was dirty, the ‘window’ was on the ceiling and completely covered by a curtain contraption (there was no way to open the curtain properly), and the previous room owner’s things were still there. I had all my things and this is where I was stuck? I had clearly made a bad choice. This whole situation was extremely upsetting and I called back home to ask for advice because I was going mental. They told me that everything will be fine and to go to the nearest mall to pick some new bed sheets and a comforter and to clean the floor. I followed through with the advice as soon as I could. My room was beginning to feel habitable. I unpacked my stuff but in a messy way so that I was ready to move out when I could — I was basically living out of my suitcases. This horrific experience made me question the place I’ve chosen to live in and being an impulsive, scared and confused person at the time, made me want to find a new place.

I began my hunt; I had gone in and seen many places but was never satisfied. I had been looking and doing viewings for a week and finally on the last day of that week, I went to an agency and to meet up with someone to chat about a room. I was so tired with viewing houses at that point that the places she showed me (online pictures) seemed extremely promising. It was right beside public transport, close to a supermarket and a gym. The room looked gorgeous but she said they go fast so of course, being naïve and fed up with looking for a place, I accepted and jumped on it. I asked about how many people were in the house and how many bathrooms there were. She said there were 3 bathrooms and 4 people in the house, me being the fifth. I was thinking about how great this place was going to be and I happily (and naively) would sign to hold the place for me when the place becomes available. She was writing the holding deposit form and she wrote “for 12 months” on the contract. This was the first red flag. I asked immediately “Why does it say 12 months?” She answered “Oh you can get out of it whenever you want. Just let me know a month in advance.” At the time I was thinking “Oh what a sweet deal, so easy to get out and a nice place!” It was kind of expensive but anything was better than the place I currently lived in right?

Fast forward to the move in date — I reread the contract and it read ‘Contract for 12 months’. I was confused and thought why did I do this? I then called the agent and inquired about how she said I only needed to give a month’s notice and I would be good to go. She said “If you want to move out you must find someone to take over the contract and live in the room for you.” I was thinking WHAT — she said she would take care of it! I then complained about her not being clear about that and she said “Oh I can help post an ad but you have to do the viewings and all that.” I kept thinking WHAT in my head. We agreed to meet at the house and so I could begin my move and sign some forms. It was originally for 6PM but she didn’t have the documents so she pushed it to 8PM. This upset me slightly but it was fine. I was about to call an Uber and bring all my things to the house and wait for her but I called my father just before leaving and he said to scout the place out first to see what it’s like and where it is. I thought it was good idea and followed through with the advice. I head to the house; I get there at 7:57 PM. She then arrives at 8:42 PM. SHE WAS 45 MINUTES LATE. I was furious and when she arrived she did not even mention anything of it. We then go into the house and she shows me the room. It’s so cold (windows were open) and the lighting is so depressing. The room is much smaller than I’d imagined and overall I was unimpressed with the place. I expressed my concern about the whole ‘get someone to take over the place/your contract’ thing because it wasn’t guaranteed that I would find someone by the time I moved out. She assured me that the place would be taken very quickly and that I would have no issue finding someone. She even said “You are going to be fine, take a photo of this room RIGHT NOW and put it on the web and see how many people you’ll get. It’s London it should go fast. Like a week or two maximum.” I was VERY sceptical and was giving a confused look then she continued: “I’ll help put the ad out… but you have to give me a month’s notice.” Wait, what? If she was so sure that the place was going to go within a week, why did she need a month? She clearly was bluffing and just trying to make me sign the documents. This agent has been shady from the beginning. Remember when I mentioned she said that there were only 5 people and 3 bathrooms? I looked around the house and there were EIGHT rooms and TWO bathrooms. This agent couldn’t be trusted. Then she has the audacity to tell me how I’m wasting her time and how she took the time off tonight for me (she was literally late and it wasn’t peak time) and was pushing me to make a decision quick. In the end, I decided (with the advice from the people I trust most) to take the loss of the deposit and stay where I’m living (no contract or weird admin fees). I swallowed the deposit cost and used this as a lesson LEARNED. This was such a bad experience but it was better than being roped into a 12 month contract for something that wasn’t even certain (having the headache of arranging viewings for people and dealing with those people on my time). It made me realize how good I had it and that my room wasn’t that bad after all.

Anyway here’s what I learned from my specific situation of financial loss:

· Money is replaceable. Do not feel bad about what you lost. Learn from it. Don’t feel like you have failed and that your life is basically over.

· Don’t go into the mentality that you could have spent that money elsewhere. Honestly- what’s done is done and you can’t do anything about it now except for learn from it.

· Be wary about who you trust. I can’t trust estate agents anymore. Always ensure that what they’re telling you is TRUE. If you’re a foreigner that doesn’t know how your new city works always proceed with caution because people WILL take advantage of that. For the love of gravy, when looking for a place make sure you view the place in real life beforehand. I made the dumb mistake to just jump in and go into the place (twice). It cost me a lot but I learned a lot about agencies and how contracts work. ALWAYS READ AND ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS. And ensure that they are CLEAR in what they say to you. If they try to give you short answers and are dodgy in general then just back out of the situation — there are tons of places to live!

· Don’t rush big decisions! ALWAYS think before giving/spending a lot of money on something! Think about the big picture — how much is it going to impact you? Just because things seem really bad for now doesn’t mean they are. Give it some time before you make any big decisions. For housing — understand that houses will always become available and there are always going to be new places that are available. Try not to rush into it and sign a contract until you are 100% certain.

Anyway, I hope that some people can learn and feel better about their situation after hearing mine. PS. Things do look up — even if everything bad is happening all at once, just think — when you’re at the bottom, you can only go up!