Don’t tick off the Girl Scouts…

by Nick on April 9, 2012

If there’s one rule you take away from this site, just remember the name of the blog every time you’re thinking of  buying something… But fortunately there isn’t only one rule…

My second-favorite rule is to “pay for” things.  When I buy things, I “pay for” them.  I don’t make payments.

If I charge the item on a credit card, I pay off the card when or before I get the bill.  And, of course, I pay my rent early.  I typically do it because I just can’t stand owing people money.  I also refuse to pay any new interest.

Anyhow, onto my point….

Two things inspired this post.  The first: I usually go to the ATM machine and take out a few bucks on Monday morning when my cash gets low.  A couple of weeks ago I was in a rush to get to work, so I skipped the ATM with only four bucks in my wallet.  Not a big deal, usually.  That day it was pretty freakin’ annoying…

At 1pm I get an e-mail from a coworker.

Your Girl Scout cookies are in.  You owe me $12.  I’ll come down in a few minutes to bring you your cookies and pick up the money.

I replied: I haven’t made it to the ATM yet but I’ll try and head out in a little bit.

An hour later, a different coworker pops into my office.

You have the $12 for ‘Sarah’?  She wants to come down but didn’t want to come down if you didn’t have her money yet.

Me: Nope.  I haven’t made it to the ATM yet today.  I’ve been working on finalizing something all day and haven’t even left my office yet.  I’ll try and hit up the ATM this afternoon.  Does she really need it this afternoon?

Coworker:  Not sure.  She just asked me to pop in.

Me: I’m really sorry.  I’m not trying to be difficult.  I just really need to get this project done and haven’t been able to get to the ATM.  If there’s a reason she needs the money fast I’ll stay late to finish the project and will run across the street now.  But if it can wait I would appreciate it.

Coworker: OK.  She just asked me to pop in.

Me: No problem.  Just let me know.

Two hours later I got an e-mail asking if I made it to the ATM yet.  I politely replied, “No, sorry.  I’ve been chained to my desk,” and quickly got a reply saying “OK.  You can get them tomorrow.”

What’s my point?

Technically if I just had $12 in my wallet it wouldn’t have turned out this way.  But this is the type of conversation and distraction that you deal with if you owe money.  And I don’t owe any money other than my rental property and student loans, so this was particularly annoying…

I mean, I ordered 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies that I didn’t even want just to be polite (plus my wife and son like them…).  Two months later I get a random “got my money?” e-mail and then two other interruptions.

(Incidentally, if I ever need money collected I’m hiring this woman – I mean, it felt like someone collecting a payday loan!  I actually stopped the project and got her money that day (but she had already left, so my cookies didn’t get released from the impound until the next morning…))

But why am I writing it here?

Short answer: It’s my blog, so I can write about whatever I want :)

The actual answer is the second thing that inspired this post:

I was in the grocery store this weekend looking for a greeting card and got another reminder about why falling behind doesn’t pay.  The store has an entire section of 89 cent cards.  They’re a bit “smaller” and just paper with pictures and writing.  They don’t play songs or have glitter or holes to stick your fingers through and pretend you’re a Radio City Rockette.  But they’re cards.  And they’re 89 cents.

That is… all except for one.  See the pic up at the top of this post?  Actual pic from the aisle.  The “belated” cards were $1.39!  That’s right.  Miss a holiday and “they” know they have you by the *ahem* neck… So you get to pay 56% more!

Pretty funny, right?  I mean seriously – pretty brilliant business move, right?  You know… taking advantage of less price sensitive buyers….  Although I’m not sure why you couldn’t just buy a regular card and write “sorry I’m so late, but I hope you had a great… whatever” on the inside.

(Tangent alert: I don’t get greeting cards.  Does anyone but my wife send them anymore?  I’d much prefer a phone call or simple handwritten note if you want to be really nice.  But she likes sending them and we get a ton for free, so we send them.  Every once in a while we pay for them and this weekend was one of those times.  Plus, stores have so many aisles dedicated to them that they must be money makers…)

So there you have it.  Two stupid, irrelevant stories that illustrate one important point:  Just pay for the crap you buy, ok?  Aside from avoiding interest and finance charges, staying ahead can save you over 50% on greetings cards, haha!  And let me tell you, being unorganized was definitely my biggest money waster historically and getting on a budget and taking a no new interest pledge has left my life nice and simple… that is, until I ticked off the Girl Scouts….

Has being unorganized cost you?  If so, one great way to avoid falling behind is to sell the crap that you’re making payments on.  Hard to miss a payment when you don’t have any!

And please, Please, PLEASE don’t ever fall behind on Girl Scout cookie payments!  Those girls have some pretty fierce collectors!  :)

Until next time, put your credit card down and slowly step away from the mall!

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Zack Jones April 9, 2012 at 7:40 am

We send cards but usually they are some generic card that we already have for some reason. I think some years ago my wife bought some kind of 144 card variety pack or something we seem to have cards for every occasion. The only exception is for our parents. We try to get them a really nice or a really funny one for their birthday.

Regarding Girl Scouts — those cookies are like crack! I really don’t like it when I go to Lowe’s or Walmart and they have their little table setup. I swear from the time I enter the store to the time I exit it I come down with a bad case of thin mint fever and my only fix is to buy a box on the way out.
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 11:06 am

I was never a “card” person until I met my wife. I usually bought cards, but made a point to get one that “didn’t go” with the holiday. My wife put an end to that really quickly…. now she finds the “best” card, whatever it costs, although she gets quite a bit for free online.

Yep – they definitely know what they’re doing… I need those marketing people for SAFTM…
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Zack Jones April 10, 2012 at 7:45 am

So here’s your payback for next year. Order from the same woman, don’t pay in advance and then daily or every other day email or stop by and ask “Are they here yet?” :)
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Nick April 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I love it! I’ll pay in advance and set an auto email to hit every 23.5 hours asking for my cookies. (I’m sure I can figure a way to set that up – I have 10 months. The best will be the 3am ones…).

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WorkSaveLive April 9, 2012 at 9:16 am

I hope you’ve learned your lesson to not buy from that lady again or just pay in advance!

That is unbelievably annoying and rude! There is no reason to hassle you that much; everybody I buy cookies is extremely patient. They have the cookies for a few weeks and I can simply get them whenever I have time.

To answer your question though: no. We’re ridiculously organized and as of the last 6 years it hasn’t been much of a problem.
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 11:09 am

Oh yeah! This was actually a collector separate for the woman who sold them believe it or not. The “seller” was out on maternity leave so she enlisted this woman to collect… So I’m only dealing directly with the seller and will make sure of that next year!

Yeah, my biggest problem for a while was organization. It was one of my weaknesses but now I’ve turned it into a strength. It’s amazing how many problems a little organization can avoid.
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Modest Money April 9, 2012 at 10:32 am

Lol that is one aggressive debt collector. That reminds me of the boss from Office Space harassing the guy about his TPS reports. I guess she’s had a problem with people not paying her back right away. You’re so right that not paying for stuff in full just wastes everyone’s time. I’m the same way with not liking to owe people money. I also pay off my credit card in full each month too. I’d much rather have the credit card company pay me in cash back rebates than pay them interest. As for greeting cards, I don’t get the appeal either. I rarely buy them and I just don’t know what to do with the ones I receive. People just keep buying them out of tradition from back when postal mail was thriving and e-mail hadn’t taken off.
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

Two peas in a pod Jeremy!

New business idea:
A card that reads: “Here’s your freakin’ card for whatever stupid holiday I’m obligated to recognize by killing a tree or two. Don’t worry there’s the standard poem you’ll never actually read on the inside and my signature, which I applied on the way out of the store as I threw away the receipt so I could get this to you at the last minute. Enjoy the poem.” Of course, on the inside it reads “Roses are read, Violets are blue, Happy whatever special day it is for you.”

All rights reserved. :) Get your orders in now. Discounts if you buy in bulk.
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Modest Money April 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Haha nice. I bet it would actually sell too. I know the rare time I buy a card I prefer to go for something with a bit of humor. Now if only you could find a company that could print it cheap enough for it to be profitable.
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Kooz April 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

I love the bit about the late cards–that is really brilliant marketing.

The Girl Scout thing confuses me. I work in an office, and I am still waiting for my cookies to arrive, even though I know for certain that a co-worker got his cookies (though he works on a different floor and presumably bought from a different Girl Scout parent). Does the GSA have favored troops who get their cookies early? Have I been scammed (probably not, since I haven’t paid yet–that or it’s the worst scam in history)? I need top get to the bottom of this. I have a hankering for Samoas.
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 11:16 am

Ha! Yeah, I was pretty impressed with the marketing myself…

I don’t know Kooz… I’d be getting nervous if I were you and would definitely check… just make sure you have the money… those scouts can be fierce.
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Daisy @ Add Vodka April 9, 2012 at 11:24 am

LOL. This is funny. It’s a little insane of your coworker to go that far to collect $12 at work, but to each his own I guess.

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Nick April 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I know – it was pretty rough… I made sure to let her know I was going to hire her any time someone owed me money :)
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femmefrugality April 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Girl Scouts are evil! We went to the store about a month ago and they nagged us to buy some cookies. Boyfriend said we would on the way out. I told him no (those things are made cheaper and cost more every year,) but before I could, they started screaming, “But we’re leaving in five minutes!”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said.
We come out of the store two hours later (long story,) and they’re STILL there asking us to buy Girl Scout cookies. I told them I don’t buy things from people who lie to me. I may have been a bit dramatic about the whole encounter. But, really.

Too funny about the belated cards. We try to pay everything on time. I do. Sometimes he’s not as organized with his stuff so we end up paying an extra $8 for being one day late. Drive me crazy.
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Wow – those little sneaks! (By the way, other than being a complete lie, I imagine it is a pretty effective line and catches a few suckers. But what do they say 45 minutes later when these people are done with their shopping and see them still there?).

Oh, that would drive me nuts! Those “we have the money so why are we not paying” moments are just so annoying.
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MyMoneyDesign April 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Sounds like you were about an hour away from a girl scout breaking your knee caps. I hope you got that $12 debt paid!

I always wondered why stores didn’t double the price of things for Easter and Christmas the week before the actual holiday. Similar to your “belated card” example, it seems like they could really rip people off and teach them a lesson about procrastination!
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Seriously… I was looking over my shoulder on my way to the can all afternoon :)

But it’s paid. She got her $12. I got my 1200 calories.

My guess is they’ve done a pretty detailed analysis of price v. total profit. You’d think that the last week would give a good opportunity to add a few extra bucks to the profits though. Maybe having so much competition around these days has helped keep some prices down.
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Emily @ evolvingPF April 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Couldn’t you have written a check for the cookies?

I think your coworker was pretty rude. I wouldn’t have been prepared to pay $12 cash on any given day. She should have sent you a heads-up that the cookies would be in over the weekend or in the evening so you could prepare. I wouldn’t have promised to go to the ATM in the middle of the day, just told her I’d have it tomorrow. Sheesh.
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I didn’t ask, although I don’t carry checks on me so it wouldn’t help too much. I used to keep one in my wallet but I used it a while back and need to restock…

Yeah, I was pretty annoyed too – a heads up would have done it. The e-mail saying “you’ll get your cookies tomorrow” felt like she was trying to stick it to me, too…
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John @ Married (with Debt) April 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Yikes. The whole selling stuff for your kids at work makes me want to punch people in the face. It’s annoying extortion.

Fine you got me for $12. Hounding people to pay up immediately makes it even worse.
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I know – I’m with you. I have an almost-3 year old son (and a 7 month old daughter). Easy to say now, but I don’t think I’ll be hitting up any coworkers for some crap they don’t want… When I was in school I went door to door with that stuff. Not sure I’d want my kids doing that these days, but maybe if I went went them they could. It would really teach them how to actually sell instead of just “here dad” and see all the orders flow in…
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jefferson April 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I had a similar experience with girl scout cookies this year.. I ordered two boxes from a co-worker, someone who I don’t even deal with regularly, because he asked and I wanted to be nice. Several months passed, and I ended up actually relocating to a different building. When the cookies arrived, he sent me message daily for about a week reminding me that I needed to pay for them. Unfortunately for me, this guy leaves at 2:00 every afternoon, and I was never able to get over to his building in time to catch him.

After a week, he stopped bugging me, and I figured he was just going to be mad at me. Thankfully, I saw him a few days ago and he told me that he “had to sell the cookies to someone else”… which was great! I didn’t want the cookies in the first place :-)

Funny point about the greeting cards as well. I think that I have given the same “Happy Birthday” Target Card about 25 times. It is the one with the dog floating in space, and it is great because it is only 50 cents! :-)
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Wow! That’s even worse than me. Your coworker could have stopped by at 2 when he got out if he really needed the cash, I’m sure. I love the “had to seel the cookies to someone else” line though… that made me LOL.

Oooh – 50 cents. I like it. I haven’t seen that dog/space card… Next trip to target I’ll be checking it out though!
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CultOfMoney April 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm

That’s the problem with a lot of those target cards, they don’t seem to change much so you’ll get duplicates on the same birthday, and even across several years. I’ve never ordered the girl scout cookies ahead of time, I was always buying them when they were actually for sale. And I also would just buy them to be nice. My wife was a girl scout, so she also has a short spot “but they’re standing in the rain!” Fine.
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Nick April 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Ahhh… I see. Then you’re forced to be more creative on the inside I guess.

Next time your wife says it, isn’t the logical response: “But so am I, so by that logic shouldn’t they also be buying something from me?”

HINT: The answer to my question is “No, moron. That’s not the logical answer. It’s the answer you give if you want to sleep on the couch that night.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot for cookies, but see no reason to pay $4 for a box of 50 when I can spend $1.50 for about fourteen thousand animal crackers…
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Well Heeled Blog April 9, 2012 at 9:16 pm

LOL. I’d keep cash in my wallet just for cases like this. Girl Scout cookies are good, but I forgot to buy some this year. Probably better for the waistline, anyway.
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Nick April 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I think think you made a wise decision. Good point though – I could have just set $12 aside when I ordered to be ready when the knee breaker called…

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YFS April 10, 2012 at 1:28 am

hahahah… Did you know the Girl Scouts are a Mafia? You either pay when you the cookies come in or they break knee caps. You’re lucky you’re walking!
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Nick April 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I feel pretty lucky! I was half expecting to see a horse head from an animal cracker left on my keyboard a la the Godfather… :)

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MultiMillionaireRoad April 10, 2012 at 7:30 am

I just think I avoid as much as I can any financial commitments, whether it’s direct debit or buying something on credit. Better to get it out the way and not to owe people where you can’t control the repayment.
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Nick April 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Yeah, next year I’m insisting on paying in advance or the cookie monster can move on to the next sucker!

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BeatingTheIndex April 10, 2012 at 9:52 am

In my case, since I never carry cash on me, I avoid these types of buys but I understand you wanting to encourage the girl scouts. This turned more annoying than I expected with all the “collection attempts”!
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Nick April 10, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Oh yeah, it got really annoying really quick… I think next time I’m going to insist on paying up front or just put the $12 in an envelope in my desk or set aside in my wallet. I’d love to avoid the purchase though… we’ll see.
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Kari@Small Budget Big Dreams April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am

Wow that’s intense! Luckily the day my cookies arrived I had some cash on me;-) Your wife and my mother and grandmother might be the only people keeping Hallmark alive these days. I do send Christmas cards, but otherwise usually make photo cards for birthdays and holidays (I make them for free all the time with all the codes and offers from the online photo websites-I guess they have to compete so they offer free cards a lot).
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Nick April 10, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Glad your cookies came in ok! Yeah, my wife does all the free code crap w/ the cards too. I get random cards sent to my office quite often that our mail guys make fun of me… :)
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Christopher @ This That and The MBA April 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Hahaha I love the cards…nothing like saying since you are a jerk for missing the occasion….now you are going to pay more!!!
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Nick April 10, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Yeah, that was pretty priceless… It took me a couple of looks to make sure I saw it right.
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20's Finances April 10, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I just finished two boxes (with my wife’s help) and we haven’t paid for them yet. haha. We need to though. I can’t wait until we see the person who is waiting for our payment. :/
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Nick April 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Watch out! They have some aggressive collectors… Hope they were good. I’m a traditional sugar cookie guy (not sure what the GSs call them). My wife likes the fancy ones, so they’re pretty easy for me to avoid.
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JAMES April 10, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Two things I despise in the workplace, celebrating birthdays and being asked to buy something because someone’s kid is selling something for school or a program that they participate in. $10 for a birthday gift every month plus $10 for cookies or candles every other month is really annoying.
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Nick April 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm

I hear you James! It’s amazing how offended some people get because you don’t want to have cake on their birthday or a freakin’ 43 year old feels the need for people to treat them to lunch to celebrate their birthday.

Maybe I can have a catalog of random crap to raise money for my son’s 529 plan, so I can ask everyone to buy something for my son’s school when they ask me… wouldn’t be a lie… :)
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Jen @ Master the Art of Saving April 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I hate owing money too, it just sucks. I also hate borrowing money from people, I just refuse to do it. We rarely send out cards, even though we have hundreds of them I got for free and got paid to buy some of them.
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Nick April 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Haha – that’s funny that even with a pile of free ones you still don’t send them. I’m with you though.
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Young Professional Finances April 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I try to avoid ever having to owe money (other than those pesky student loans and my mortgage unfortunately). Even when I ordered girl scout cookies at work, I wanted to pay up – and I hadn’t even gotten the cookies yet! It bugged me every day (note: she didn’t bug me, just the idea of owing money bugged me) for a few days until I finally had the time to walk over and pay her.
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Nick April 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Sounds like we’re in a similar boat except stupid me let these damn cookies slip by on pawn… :)

Once I realized what was going on the lightbulbs started turning on! No more cookie debt for me.

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