One of the first things our father taught my brother and me was the necessity of reading every single word of every single document that we sign. No exceptions. No excuses. Zilch. Nada.
The lesson was repeated in law school (yeah, I actually trained as a lawyer in an alternate lifetime – go figure!). Because whether it’s a mutual fund form or a lease agreement, ignorance is simply no defense in a court if you’ve signed on the dotted line and then things have gone sour.
And it was in law school that it really hit me how much could go wrong in the most innocuous looking documents: companies may shut down without paying a single dividend, houses could be abruptly stripped of all the fixtures that actually tempted you over at the viewing, credit card interest rates could be subject to unfair revisions at the sole discretion of the bank, employment contracts could have whole lot of hidden clauses, online agreements may give the provider access to all your personal information… I could go on and on. And on.
Which is why, on Women’s Day, I take a teeny break from beauty matters to look at L&T Mutual Fund’s #DontJustSignHere campaign. It’s a perception-altering project that reveals how many of us women simply sign away major chunks of our life, time and finances without ever reading the documents.
But why? Sometimes its because we do not understand the technicality of the matter, sometimes its because we have better things to worry about and more often than not, it’s just ignorance or laziness.
So, dusting off that legal degree, here’s my bit to get the ball rolling forwards. #DontJustSignHere. A pledge to never again sign a document without reading it properly. Remember, you wouldn’t buy that sparkly black dress unless you tried it on first. Nor would you bring home that mega-bucks red lipstick before checking whether it worked for your complexion.
So, why wouldn’t you put your financial outlook to the test before building it into your life? It’s important for us to get involved in our financial decisions if we are to become the masters of our destiny. Because nobody knows what we want, what we need, and what suits our personalities and circumstances as well as we do ourselves. The buck stops here.
As Suze Orman, one of America’s leading personal finance experts, puts it: “You have got to be the master of your own financial future. If you’re not staying on top of your money, you are putting your financial well-being at risk.”