A Screaming Idiot and Your Money

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Screaming Idiot

Many of my readers know that my wife and I went to Vegas for my 40th Birthday several months ago. If you’ve never been to Vegas before, it pays to experience it at least once in your life. Gambling aside, there are plenty of fun things to do in Vegas and one of those is people watching.

Those who have been to Vegas know the “characters” that parade up and down the Strip. Some are more colorful than others, but it can provide for countless hours of fun…as long as it’s not 110 degrees outside at the time. 🙂

The downside to all this people watching is that those with something to peddle, usually either time shares or some sort of “companion” for the evening, have many people they can approach with what they have to offer. I’ve been to Vegas enough times to know what to do and just keep my eyes down as to not catch someone’s eye. It’s not foolproof, but it’s what I have found that works.

Anywho, we’re walking over to The Cosmopolitan one morning for brunch and, out of nowhere, this gentleman starts yelling at me. He seemed like a fine person, just that he wanted my attention and he literally grabbed me by the arm and started talking to me about some time share he was peddling. The kicker was when he informed me that Mrs. Frugal Rules and I would have to get on a bus that he claimed to own to take us to his ‘office.’ Suffice it to say there was no way I was getting on the bus.

I politely said no thanks and started walking away. He then, I kid you not, went on to grab Mrs. Frugal Rules’ left hand and said that if I could afford a wedding ring “like that” then I could afford his time share. As an aside, the wedding ring belonged to my Grandmother, but I wasn’t going to bother telling him that. 😉

Then, as nicely as I could, I told him what he could do with the time share and proceeded to walk away. The last thing he said was that if we did not get on his bus that he’d start screaming at us. I laughed him off, we walked away and he the last thing I heard was him screaming.

Being the personal finance geek I am, I think we can learn something about our finances from this screaming idiot. Let me explain…

Temptation to Spend is Everywhere


At his core, this individual wanted our money. He wanted us to buy his timeshare. I’m also assuming he was even willing to “give” us free show tickets or some free meal for taking the time to listen to his spiel. I get that. There’s a reason why salespeople do things like this. It’s because they’re willing to spend a little to score a much better purchase from us. That’s also not to mention the fact that it works…time and again.

Whether we like it or not, we’re surrounded by advertising. Advertising isn’t “bad” per se and it puts a roof over my head as well as food on our table. Often times it’s done to communicate or educate us about something, but many times it’s to convince us we “need” to buy something. We all know the screaming idiots of advertising – it’s the flashy and gaudy billboard or some obnoxious TV ad. Those can be easy to turn off and not give in to. However, it’s the subtle ones that work to convince us we need to have said item that can get us into trouble.

I know they work because I’ve seen them do so from both ends of the spectrum. I fell prey to them when I was wallowing neck deep in credit card debt and I see it work now for some of our clients.

We Must Make Informed Decisions


As advertising is obviously not going to end anytime soon, this requires us to make informed decisions. This doesn’t only apply to giving in to some tempting ad, but it also applies to many other things, such as:

  • Knowing the terms and conditions of our credit cards
  • Knowing what is spelled out in our mortgage/rental agreements
  • Knowing how to avoid fees on our banking products

This is only a sampling of the things we need to keep ourselves informed of. The point is that there are many things out there trying to separate us from our money. Seeing as companies, banks and various other outfits are trying to part us from our money, it falls on us to make informed decisions.

Going back to the man we encountered on the Strip in Vegas, there is a time where I would’ve gladly given into his spiel. I’m man enough to admit that. But, in a society that preaches ‘spend now, think later,’ it behooves us to know the why behind our spending so we can make more informed decisions.


Have you been to Las Vegas? If so, what was your most memorable encounter on the Strip? Have you had a time share hawked at you before? If so, how did you handle it? If not, what is the one form of advertising that gets you to spend every time?


Photo courtesy of: Crosa

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

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  • Natalie @ Financegirl says:

    I have never been to Vegas! Most of my friends and family have, but it hasn’t happened for me. And I have to say I have zero desire to go! I hate gambling and pictures of the pools just scare me. I suppose I would enjoy shows and shopping there, but I could just go to NYC for that. Glad you had a blast!

    • John says:

      I totally get that Natalie. That said, there’s actually quite a bit to do there, even if you’re not into gambling or the hotel pools. We never gamble all that much and still have plenty to do.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    My friend went to a timeshare presentation in Vegas in exchange for a free stay at a really nice hotel (may have even been a couple nights IN a timeshare? not sure). But they wouldn’t let him take the papers with him after the presentation. He wanted his lawyer to review them before signing (he had no intention of signing) and they said the papers couldn’t leave the room unless signed. Sounds like insanity to me!

    • John says:

      Wow, that’s just nuts! I can understand not signing and wanting a lawyer to look over the papers. I’d be looking for the quickest way out in that case.

  • Brian @ Luke1428 says:

    The one form of advertising that gets me to spend are BOGOs…buy-one, get-one offers. I often find myself falling for the trap that having two for the price of one is worth it. Never mind the fact that I only need one and wouldn’t know what to do with the second…unless it was food. πŸ™‚

    • John says:

      That can be an easy one to fall for. I know I’ve fallen prey to it at times. I just stop and ask myself if I truly need the item in question or if I’m just enticed by the sale. If it’s the latter, which it usually is, it makes the decision fairly simple.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    Timeshares are an awful investment! I see them on craiglist all the time for $100, or even for free. People can barely give them away! I honestly cannot believe that people still buy timeshares.

    • John says:

      Totally agreed Holly. I’ve seen the same thing myself, which is reason enough not to look at them seriously at all.

  • Jon @ Money Smart Guides says:

    I don’t know if I could have just walked away from a guy that started grabbing my wife and I to try to sell us something. It’s one thing to give your pitch, it’s another thing to start grabbing people. I would have told him to kindly get his hands off of us and leave us alone.

    • John says:

      Yea, everything in me wanted to deck the guy, but I told him where he could stick his time share which was enough for me.

  • Travis @debtchronicles says:

    We listened to one of those timeshare presentations in Mexico in exchange for a $100 voucher. It almost worked…we almost signed up for the timeshare. Luckily something shocked me back to reality and we walked away – later that day in the pool we were talking to some older people who were staying there because they DID sign up – years ago. They congratulated us on resisting….they said it’s the worst choice they’ve ever made. I made a promise to myself that day that I would NEVER listen to a timeshare presentation again – my vacation time is worth more than that!

    • John says:

      Good for you Travis! I know we have family members who will go listen to them for different free things. My time is just worth more to that than me, not to mention not having to put up with the high pressure sales pitch.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    I’ve been to Vegas once, and that was enough for me, LOL. I think the advertising that really gets to me is the stuff that focuses on what parents need to do to make their kids happy, as in Disneyland, new pools, etc. I always, after falling prey, get back to staunch rebellion, but it’s tough at first. πŸ™‚

    • John says:

      Ha ha, I hear ya Laurie! Yep, that kind of advertising works all the time unfortunately. So many companies think they know what’s “best” for our kids. It can be difficult to avoid at times, but well worth it in the long run.

  • Dee @ Color Me Frugal says:

    When we were in St. Maarten this spring there were some people who would stand on the side of the road outside the big resorts and try to stop you in your car as you were driving out of the resort! Of course they didn’t seem to bother the taxis much, but as soon as they saw a rental car they went ballistic! Talk about a good way to make someone have an accident. We drove right on by.

    • John says:

      We saw the same exact thing in Antigua. Once we got off the ship we were just inundated by it. But, they have a captive audience so they do it for a reason.

  • Anne @ Unique Gifter says:

    Holy obnoxious batman! I would have been pretty cheesed off at the loon.
    The “if you have that you can afford this” line of thinking really irks me. How about “I can afford that because I don’t spend it on this junk!”

  • Average Joe says:

    What a great sales pitch! That dude has a career in assault all lined up and ready for lift off.

  • MrsFinancialFreedom says:

    Im surprised the guy hadn’t been punched if that was how he normally conducted his sales pitch! I use to fall for all sorts of adverts promising me if I bought the thing they selling that my life would infinitely be better. Still sometimes find myself getting sucked in but I am doing my best to resist.

    • John says:

      I agree, because I wanted to do it myself! πŸ™‚ It can be easy to get sucked in at times, it happens to the best of us.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I’ve had some “special” experiences in Vegas, but luckily, none of that nature. I get the temptation to spend in NYC ALL the time though. I just do my best to stay focused on my goals, regardless of what kind of crazy I encounter along the way.

    • John says:

      I bet it can be easy to get tempted in NYC, as it would any other large major city. Staying focused on your goals is a great tactic to use.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    Man that guy was nasty and aggressive! I’ve never had any crazy experiences in Vegas, but have had uncomfortable encounters in other cities. I think everyone needs to build strength in their advertising defense bubble as much as they can. πŸ™‚

    • John says:

      That he was! I’m just surprised that the guy hasn’t gotten decked before. Yes, having that strength is a definite.

  • Kim says:

    My best Vegas encounter was the naked guy running down the strip, soaking wet, draped in an American flag. The police came running not long after he went by. Maybe it was the same guy and someone got tired of his yelling and stripped him and dunked him in a fountain!

  • Grayson Bell says:

    You are a better man than I John. If that idiot would have grabbed my wife, it would have been on. I am not sure if my wife would have been nice about it either. She is feisty. You are correct about the temptations all around us and how we need to be able to “keep our head down” when some of them come our way.

    • John says:

      Ha ha, I don’t know about that Grayson! If we hadn’t have been in a hurry I wouldn’t have been as nice. But, he got my drift based off of what I said and how I said it.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    I have specifically avoided time share pitches because I fear that I would have a weakness for the screaming idiot. I love to travel and have a bad feeling that if I saw some flashy and nice pictures that I might be swayed to the dark side. But that goes back to your point of making informed decisions. Part of being completely informed is being informed on yourself and your own weaknesses not to mention the weaknesses of what you may indulge in.

    • John says:

      That’s an excellent point Shannon! A lot of it does come down to knowing yourself and what your weaknesses are so you can avoid problem areas.

  • Joshua @ CNA Finance says:

    Wow! People really do have some nerve. I could imagine how polite I might be in that situation. Anyway, this is a great lesson. Thanks for sharing the story!

    • John says:

      Yea, I wouldn’t believe it unless I went through it myself. I was somewhat polite in my tone, but the words alone should have clued him in to what my thoughts were on his approach and product.

  • Raquel@Practical Cents says:

    I went to Vegas over 10 years ago. It was during Christmas week so it was not as packed but I still remember all the temptations in the streets and in the casinos. It is temptation city. It’s not a place I would visit again. Just not my cup of tea. One of my strategies for staying focused is avoiding temptation whenever I can. I think for me the one thing that can get me to spend is a vacation and if there’s a good deal it can be hard to say no.

    • John says:

      I deal with the same temptation Raquel. You’re already on vacation and thus wanting to kick back more. We usually allow ourselves a budget, but we always seem to struggle with going over those.

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    Wow! What an interesting approach to getting sales, screaming. Now people might pay you to shut-up but I don’t think they would hop on a bus with you and buy a timeshare. Yikes! I do agree 100% that we are surrounded by marketing and it’s gotten even more effective because we are always on – from our tablets/smart phones to social media. We are aware so much more today of what other’s have and the temptation to compete is high when your Facebook timeline overflows with pictures other’s “good fortune”. Like you said, you have to be mindful of the fact that you are always being sold, and focus on your own goals.

    • John says:

      I agree, maybe it’s one we should try in our business. πŸ˜‰ That said, that is a good point that advertising can be difficult to get away from as it’s seemingly everywhere and when you add in social media it makes it even worse.

  • Brad @ How to Save Money says:

    It is 105 degrees right now in Vegas. I don’t recommend it to anyone.
    The temptation to spend money is all around us. I feel terrible when I can’t go out and shop. I used to think it is how we are socialized in the first world. Then I spent some time living in the third world – Indonesia to be exact. They want stuff just as much as we do. They spend what little money they have as if there were no tomorrow. Maybe the first world has spread to the third. Or maybe it is just human nature to covet. Either way, the time share sales man is going to continue to score his sales.

    • John says:

      Ha ha, yep I’m not a fan of that heat. Great points Brad. It helps you see the perspective when you spend time in a third world country, though they do still want things like we do. That said, I think it is in our nature to covet, that’s part of the reason why advertising works the way it does.

  • debt debs says:

    That’s a crazy tactic he used. Who would go for that? I’ve been to Vegas, once on a conference, but my husband has not. It’d have to be a pretty sweet deal for me to go again. πŸ˜‰

  • Amy says:

    I’ve only been to Vegas for work a couple of times, and it’s a little to crazy for me. πŸ™‚ I don’t have a timeshare. Frankly, I don’t really understand how they work, but I do have the impression that they’re not a good investment.

    It’s not usually the big things that get me. I’m working on this, but I’ve been a real sucker for “buy three, get a $5 gift card” kind of deals. Unfortunately, lots of those deals can add up to a lot of spending…

    • John says:

      I know of a handful that have them and get the impression that they’re definitely not for everyone. If you’re part of the target market, then maybe. But, I know that’s not me.

      Those smaller deals can really add up. You might think it’s not much, but they can definitely have a way of getting out of hand.

  • E.M. says:

    I would have been freaked out if some random person started yelling and grabbing my boyfriend’s arm, nevermind my hand. I guess in Vegas you need to expect weird things to happen, but that’s going a bit too far for me! I’ve never been in a situation involving timeshares, but advertisements concerning restaurants always get me. Whatever I cook never looks that good! It’s hard not to give in.

    • John says:

      “I guess in Vegas you need to expect weird things to happen…” VERY true E.M.! Those get a lot of us I think. There’s a reason why they peak between the 5-7 pm. hours. πŸ™‚

  • Aldo @ MDN says:

    I went to a couple of those presentations for free stuff but never signed those papers. Both times I went though, there were more than one person buying a time share. I’m not that smart but I’m smart enough to know that time shares are a bad investment.

    • John says:

      Oh, I believe there was Aldo! Unfortunately far too many get sucked in by the questionable math and the hopes of a good investment.

  • MMD says:

    What a creepy dude to grab your wife’s hand! Unfortunately I’ve been to a time-share presentation before. The product is total crap for the price. But MAN they do a great job on the presentation. They make it sound so great!

    • John says:

      I know. I couldn’t believe he actually did it, but he had the guts to do it. I bet they do an awesome job on the presentation, though I bet our guy is lacking in that area as well. πŸ˜‰

  • Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says:

    I’ve never been to Vegas, but I’d love to go. I think it’s next on my list of places to visit within North America. I think there is temptation to spend everywhere; I recently just came back from Los Angeles and spent far more than I’d intended on food and alcohol.

    • John says:

      It can be easy to spend more in LA. I lived in SoCal for about two years and it’s crazy how expensive some things there are.

  • Nell @ The Million Dollar Diva says:

    The timeshare craze has recently started to catch on in Asia. When we went to Bali there were a lot of hawkers trying to sell plots for the new developments going up. How they got you in was super clever, though.

    They’d come up and hand you a free scratchie, telling you that you might win a prize – they ranged from small things up to, free nights in a hotel or flights. Of course every card wins a prize, and then they tell you that you have to go to a certain place to go and collect it – which is where they then try to sell you on the timeshare.

    A lot smoother than your man in the street in Vegas, I reckon.

    • John says:

      That is pretty clever, albeit a bit underhanded. I would think that would be something more people would fall for, generally speaking. That said, yes, anything sounds smoother than the character we ran into in Vegas.

  • Poor Student says:

    Oh wow that man is an aggressive salesman. I’ve been to a couple of MLM or timeshare-like presentations and it was like a cult… To be honest I fell for once then I did some research and it turned out it was a bad product and I decided to stay away.

    • John says:

      That he was. I knew someone that was pretty heavily involved in a MLM scheme and sadly it was like a cult. They still manage to lure people in unfortunately though.

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