Personal Financial Wellness
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© 2018-2020 Shake Your Money Tree


Let me tell you a story about scammers, worthiness and rainy-day funds. I know, one of these things is not like the other, but in this story, they all have a part to play.


Before I get into all that though, I need to give a little backstory.


I’m a renter. I love renting because it allows me the flexibility to move whenever I want, to wherever I want. And I choose to live along the coastline in California because it’s an amazing place to live, and I can afford to live here as a renter and enjoy a lifestyle I wouldn’t be able to have somewhere else. Not to mention, I am not handy in any sense of the word, so being able to call for maintenance when something needs fixing and not having to deal with yard work are my ideal ways of living.


In early May while out of town on a business trip, I got a 60-day notice to vacate my rental property because the new owners wanted to renovate.


Needless to say, I was in shock...


…shaking and nervous because while I knew this day would eventually come after the property had been sold, I didn’t know it would come so soon. And I live in a highly competitive housing market, so time is of the essence when finding a place online and jumping to see it before it gets snatched up by another hawkish renter.


Because of this, I felt a bit of extra stress knowing I was losing valuable time until I could fly back home to officially start my search.  


But what I wasn’t stressed out about was money.


I knew I had plenty in my rainy-day fund to cover a new security deposit and first month’s rent, and that it would be replenished once I got the security deposit back from my current place. Unlike many of my neighbors who were facing the same short timeframe to find a new place to live, I at least wasn’t stressed out over money.


This is why all of the financial gurus, me included, stress the importance of having emergency savings.


It’s crucial whether you rent or own… you never know what might happen and the last thing you need is the added stress of wondering where the money is coming from when you need it the most.


So as soon as I returned home from my trip, I started stalking the rental listings.


A few days in I saw an ad for a place that seemed too good to be true. The rent was about half of what it should be in the neighborhood, but I thought, who knows, maybe the person who owns it has had it for 30 years and doesn’t know or care what the market price should be.


So I reached out via email and waited for a response.


It came a few days later… from a man who said he’d just gone back to Texas so he wasn’t there to show it anymore, but “why don’t you drive by and take a look in the windows and if you’re interested we can handle everything over the phone.


Immediately the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. This was a scam.


I’ve heard of and seen this before. Scammers poach a listing from a real rental or a recently sold home and put it up on Craigslist as theirs just waiting for unsuspecting people who don’t know any better to do just that… drive by a property, take a look through the windows and jump on it without ever having met the landlord or seeing the inside.


I know it seems unlikely that someone would be that gullible… but they are.


Case in point: One day a week or so later I found it… the one… the most beautiful shower I’d ever seen. No, seriously, that’s the only picture the rental listing showed, but from the description and address, I just felt it was the place for me.


And after seeing it a few days later, I knew it was everything I’d hoped I could have in a place to live. It was just a matter of me doing whatever I needed to do to get it. As my sister and mom tell me, once I get it in my head I want something, I typically find a way to make it happen. And I was NOT letting this one go.


But as I completed the rental application and handed over the security deposit, I started to get a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach.


Something felt off, and I couldn’t pinpoint what it was.


Unlike the guy who’d posted a fake listing, I’d actually met the property manager and she’d walked me through the inside of the unit.


Yet still, I couldn’t shake the feeling.


I even had a dream that she stole my identity, cashed the large security deposit check, and cleaned out my bank accounts.


This is where the story gets interesting…


A few days later it was time for me to sign the lease, but when I met her at the property, she informed me that although she was letting me move in a few days before the first of the month, the current tenant hadn’t completely moved out, so she couldn’t yet give me the keys.


At this point, I felt like the ball had dropped… was this a scam?


I explained to her my worries and the dream I’d had. I told her about the Craigslist scammer. I told her I was worried about handing over yet another large amount of money for the first month’s rent, but not being able to get the keys. Being the nice woman she appeared to be, she assured me all was good and offered to have me hold onto the cashier’s check until moving day a few days later. It was then that I felt like I was overreacting, so I said no, to go ahead and keep it.


That I trusted her.


But as we were walking out the door to lock up, a young woman walked up and said she was looking for the owner of the front unit. The property manager introduced herself and asked the woman if there was something she could help her with.


She replied that she was meeting the owner there to get the keys because she’d rented the unit and was supposed to be moving in a few days later. The problem was, that unit had already been rented out months earlier.


She had fallen for the scam on Craigslist.


Sadly, she’d wire transferred $4000 to a man she’d never met to secure a property she’d never seen the inside of.


She was desperate, she was young, and she was living my worst nightmare.


I told her to immediately file a police report then go to her bank to report the fraud and maybe, just maybe, she’d get her money back. I felt just awful for her, but there was nothing more either of us could do to help her at that moment.


It was then that the property manager turned to me, handed me the cashier’s check and told me to hang onto it until I moved in. That she would make it a point to come to me to get it on moving day, given the story I’d literally just told her before the woman walked up and told hers.


I felt relieved, yet terribly torn:


Why did I doubt this woman?


Why was I feeling the way I’d been feeling for a week when I’d never felt that way about a rental before?


What was really gnawing at my stomach?


I tell this story mostly as a cautionary tale, but there’s more to it than that.


Was I feeling the way I’d been feeling because I was a mis-fortune teller? No, I don’t think so.


It took a bit of soul-searching, and after talking with a friend of mine, I realized it was my own subconscious telling myself I didn’t deserve to have such a nice place to live. That the ball would drop somehow, some way.


My worthiness factor was at stake.


I’d never lived in such a nice place, and while I wanted it, I somehow didn’t believe I deserved to have it.


Places like this are for people with money, and who am I to be like one of them?


Even though it’s a rental, it’s the nicest rental I’ve ever had. Everything is brand new, it’s big and beautiful and it’s smack in the middle of my ideal neighborhood.


It was too good to be true… for me.


I’ve been working through these feelings for weeks now trying to understand them. I share this side of myself because I want you to know that no matter how much we work on ourselves, the work never ends.


I’ve come so far in my life and am at a point where I can afford to have a place this nice, yet, my somehow my deep money brain still believed I wasn’t worthy of it.


The only and biggest difference is, rather than just stuffing away or forgetting about the feelings, I reflected on why I was feeling the way I was, and that’s how I uncovered the underlying cause.


Worthiness is a tricky thing.


We can work hard our whole lives, and on the outside look like we know what the hell we’re doing with our life.


But our inner self never lies to us. Our beliefs about what we deserve are always lurking under the surface.


~ It shows up in how we expect and allow others to treat us.


~ It shows up in the relationship we have with our money.


~ It shows up in the kind of job we choose, the type of people we elect to interact with, and the environment we create for ourselves.


This is why we must address our true feelings about money and what it means to us. It is simply a reflection of how worthy we feel about our place in this world. If you don’t have enough money, you might be either subconsciously repelling it, or mismanaging it. If you have enough, yet feel like you shouldn’t, it’ll show through in other ways - like having feelings of not deserving it or what it provides you.


So, let this be a cautionary tale about both rental scams and the tricks our money brain can play on us.


Think about why you make the money decisions you do, and how you can make different and better ones going forward.


In other words, Get to the Root of Your Money Mindset™, so you can take control of your beliefs, attitudes, and actions to start living the life you’re worthy of!


If you’re looking for help in uncovering your deep-seated beliefs about money and the subconscious money scripts you might carry that are impeding your ability to live your best life, let’s chat and work through your concerns.

#financialliteracy #financialwellness #worthiness #scamalert #moneybeliefs #rainydayfund #emergencyfund #emergencysavings