Personal Finance 

Appearances and Reality, Part 1

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This is a guest post by Figure Eight, who apparently looks younger than she is (lucky!), and she blogs over at Figure Eight (blog has since been removed).

I’m someone who looks quite a bit younger than I am. Not long ago, I was pulled over by a traffic cop after I misread a sign and made an ill-advised left turn.

He took my license and registration back to his car, and when he came back to my car, he was laughing. “You must get carded all the time,” he said. He went on to tell me that he was in the business of sizing people up, and he was rarely wrong. “But I looked at you,” he said, “and I thought: 22, maybe 24 tops.”

He let me off with a warning–partly, I think, out of surprise.

I guess I can’t help the fact that I look young. I think it has something to do with the long hair, minimal make-up, and casual clothes. I would say it’s my genes, except for the fact that my younger sister—who is eight years younger—has been taken as older than me since she was 13.

Not long ago, I went to Home Depot for a kitchen redesign. I paid $60 for someone to come out and measure my kitchen, then sat down with a designer to decide what we would do. Before long, I got the sense that his heart wasn’t really in it. After every small decision we made, he would say: “Well, let’s find out what that costs.” And he would calculate the cost and then look at me, as if he expected me to panic or flee. I made three separate trips to Home Depot before we finalized the design, and he was supposed to send it out for a labor quote, but that never happened. The designer left the store, and things fell between the cracks, and after a few misbegotten attempts to resurrect the process and order something, I called the manager and got my money back. I’m now repeating the process (with slightly more success) with Lowe’s.

I’m finding out that the kitchen design center at all the major home improvement stores are massively understaffed. And yet I can’t help but wonder if the kitchen designer looked at me and thought I was too young to be a serious customer. If so, it was his (expensive) mistake. But it was also a waste of my time. Still, short of marching in and announcing, “I may look young, but I’m quite flush and I’m planning to pay cash for this kitchen renovation” I’m not sure how to go about correcting the impression. Thoughts?

Figure Eight is a New England-based writer and editor who’s been reading financial blogs almost as long as they’ve existed. She was recently inspired to start her own blog, which covers financial subjects, but from the perspective of finding out how to cultivate an enjoyment of what you already have.

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