How do you know who to trust with your money?
I’m writing this because of a little occurrence that happened yesterday, which I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.
I had put my car in for the MOT in the morning and so had to get the bus into Leeds. I was booked in to attend a workshop.
Whilst I was on the bus, it went through one of my property investment patches, one of the poorer areas.
A young lass on the seat behind me began having a phone conversation. Now I didn’t have much choice but to listen to this girl’s conversation, and as it panned out, I began to feel sorry for her.
She was on the phone to what appeared to be some sort of loan or debt repayment company – explaining how she was baffled that a payment of £19 had been missed and that she couldn’t afford the double payments of £38 plus a £12 late payment charge.
I listened, and felt bad for her – especially as during her conversation she triggered all my emotional key phrases, such as “I’m a single mum”, “I can’t afford that”, and “If I pay you all that I’m going to be left short this week”.
This phone call had lasted ten minutes by now while she argued her case.
I had a discreet look round at her, bearing in mind I hadn’t seen her up to now, just heard her phone call.
She was a young lass in her early 20s, plainly and casually dressed. She looked quite tidy, not rough or drug-addicted, nor too extravagant, jazzy or flashy – just a normal young girl who appeared to be having some hardship.
I ummed and aahed to myself, and decided that I would try and help her.
I looked in my purse. I’m a bit like the Queen these days in that I don’t often carry real money anymore (in fact did you know that only 30% of transactions in the UK now are cash? But that’s another story…)
However, I had a 5 pound note in my purse.
It wasn’t much, but it would make me feel better knowing that she’d have enough cash to make sure she had food for her kid.
I thought about my plan to give her this fiver.
What if she was insulted?
In the past, I’ve had people feel sorry for me, when I was a skint kid with a poor single mother – and I know how that humiliation burns.
Her conversation continued, and she mentioned to the person on the other end of the line that she was annoyed that she was having to have this embarrassing conversation on a public bus.
I felt her humiliation for her, the last thing anyone wants to be doing is airing private problems in front of everyone.
The bus arrived at the main stop on Leeds and everyone started to disembark. She got up, continuing her phone call, and I immediately got up after her, discreetly touched her on the arm and tried to give her the fiver.
What happened next baffled, confused and surprised me.
She laughed, moved the phone away from her face and said, “Oh it’s alright, don’t worry, I’m lying to them”. And then a farcical scenario occurred, where I didn’t believe her, tried to give her the money anyway and she laughed and refused.
I got off the bus absolutely bewildered.
I contemplated this.
I thought how convincing her story was.
And how I, normally cynical and savvy, had believed what I had heard from her.
Am I going soft?
How could I have not spotted that she wasn’t genuine?
I’m normally so good at spotting fibs and incongruencies; my gut instincts are very strong.
And then I was baffled: she had easily lied to a stranger on the phone that she didn’t know, but then told the truth to someone right in front of her, when they offered the help of money.
I laughed at this juxtaposition.
Was she lying to them?
Or just lying to me?
And if them; are things really so bad that being short of £19 is an issue?
What would have happened if I’d had a twenty-pound note to offer?
I genuinely thought that she needed help, and tried to give her it.
We don’t see people as they are, but as we are.
What would you have done in that situation?
And how would you have reacted to her revelation?
I went on to my workshop, which was about private investment.
It became absolutely clear to me that you really need to know someone very well when making an investment.
How can you ever be sure you trust someone with your money?
And know for certain that they’re not a wretch?
I’ve met people before, and within half an hour of meeting them, they’ve offered to lend me money. This makes me very nervous and dubious, and I tell them, “But you hardly know me!”.
It makes me concerned how easily other people agree to things so quickly. I’m nervous for them: not because I’m a wretch who will rip them off – but because there are other people out there who will.
I want people to know me first before they invest with me.
Because although I know that I’m trustworthy, it’s very important to me that I know that other people know that I am trustworthy as well.
I’m not content with just taking someone’s money to invest if I think they’re uneasy about me.
After all, anyone could say anything on the internet, and perhaps, like me, you could be fooled by a one-sided conversation.
My point is this: meet people in person before investing anything: time, effort, or money.
Get to know them.
Watch what they do and how they behave, over a period of time.
Get proof that they are what they say they are.
Because I would absolutely hate to think that someone has taken advantage of your good nature.
Even if it is only a fiver…
Kellyann is a full time property investor and investment strategist, based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
For further details of her work, and how she can help you, please visit: