The Best Investment

Why did I give up $500 without batting an eye?

by - Posted on Mar 25, 2015

Amy and Tom Petruzelli

I drove along the Jacksonville beachfront on my way to work, getting madder at myself with each shiny new building I passed. All of them nicer and closer to my new office than the apartment I’d just leased. I should have explored the area, done my homework. Instead I’d jumped at the first place I saw. Could I get out of it? I called the leasing agent after work.  

“Sure,” she said, “But you’ll be forfeiting your $500 deposit.”

That wasn’t money I could afford to throw away. I was 25 years old and had just spent a good chunk of my savings relocating from Los Angeles. My company had put me up in a hotel while I waited for my move-in date, and I’d been my usual frugal self. I didn’t splurge on fancy dinners, I shopped at the clearance rack at the discount store. You know that guy at the bank with a bag full of coins? That’s me. I absolutely hate wasting anything, especially money.

I was prepared to put up a fight or negotiate for a shorter lease. Instead, a strange sense of peace came over me. A powerful calm that kept my simmering frustration from boiling over. I heard myself saying the words I never thought I’d say: “That’s okay. I’ll forfeit the deposit.” 

I hung up the phone. Now I was really mad at myself. I was out of $500 and a place to live! That money could’ve covered my entire wardrobe for the year! What in the world had gotten into me?

The following morning, I drove to an apartment complex not far from work. Standing in front of the building I was set to tour was a tall, red-headed girl. “I’m Amy,” she said, waving. “Are you moving here?” She had a southern accent and a smile so dazzling that I almost forgot why I was there.

I signed a lease that same day. When I settled into my new home later that month, I discovered I’d already met my next-door neighbor.

One year later, I moved again—to a bigger unit with Amy, my new bride. That $500? The best investment I ever made.

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