Archive for the ‘Saving Money’ Category

Some people waste money by neglecting to do one simple thing:  Get multiple quotes.  Duh, this sounds ridiculously simple, doesn’t it?  I don’t know why people don’t do it, but, as a Realtor, I see it all the time.  Sometimes they don’t believe there is any discernible difference between service people.  If you are someone who shares this opinion, please know it is the furthest thing from the truth.

When I say get multiple quotes, I mean a minimum of three.  Four or five is even better if you have the time.  I could quote you anecdotal evidence all day long, but I will just mention a few…  I had sellers who were required to replace a septic last year.  Two bids were both over $17,000.  The third was $11,000, and the contractor, though smaller, had a stellar reputation.  Guess who they used?  $6,000 will buy you a lot of trinkets or even a pretty fabulous vacation (at least by my standards).  A few years ago, I had another seller who needed to put in a radon mitigation system (and the house already had the piping for it).  The buyer’s agent gave me a quote from his guy (who I used to use) for $1,250.  I had long ago switched to someone who did the same installations for $650.  I had the occasion to ask the first fellow why his bid was so high, the highest for this job I had ever seen.  He told me he was extremely busy and he didn’t care if he got the job or not so he priced it accordingly…gravy if he got it, no skin off his busy nose if he didn’t.  Don’t be shocked.  This happens more often than you realize.

If you think everyone is hungry for work in this economy and will work for any price, think again.  I just got a price to take down one large dead tree in my front yard.  The bid was almost $1,600 (pricey for a little rural community like mine).  I called another guy who told me $800, and for a total outlay of $1,200 he would take three other smaller trees with it…four trees for less than one from first guy.

Another important point, hire the right person for the job.  Allow me to explain.  If I have a client who needs to have property corners marked, we hire a surveyor, not an engineer.  If I have a small drywall job or windows with broken seals, I hire a handyman(woman/person), not a building contractor.  The handy(people) in your community can easily and professionally handle a wide variety of jobs and home improvement projects – decks, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, window and door repairs, etc.    Call the contractor when you want to add on a room or build a new house.  To repeat myself, don’t fire a cannon at a fly.  You only need a fly swatter, and you’ll save so much money.  And, don’t be afraid to ask these guys for quotes or their hourly rate.

Note:  If you want to lay tile or hardwood floor or install new counter-tops, you are probably better off using the supplier’s installer because this is all they do and if the job isn’t perfect, you have recourse against the company they work for.  Lowe’s and Home Depot, for example are going to want you to be happy, not just with the product, but with the final result.

P.S.  If you don’t know good handy(people) in your community you might consider calling a Realtor.  Providing they are not recommending their brother-in-law who needs a job, they can give you names and contact information for folks for almost any job you’ve got.  They shouldn’t mind as, if they have half a brain, they will appreciate the opportunity to make contact with a homeowner who might, in turn, recommend them to friends who are buying or selling.

P.P.S. – Ask all these guys if they will DISCOUNT FOR CASH.  My father does this all the time.  It used to embarrass my step-mom, but he has saved a ton of money over the years.  He almost always gets a discount.  Of course, that means you actually have to have cash.


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Bartering is not a new idea.  People have been doing it for centuries.  The country doctor used to be paid in preserves and pies or slabs of beef, the undertaker might take payment from the handyman in the form of a new roof.   In the good financial times since World War II, the concept seemed to almost disappear.  I believe it came to be thought of as degrading – impolite or tactless to query a person about exchanging goods and services.  We wanted everyone to know we had the financial means to pay for anything we needed or desired, and a provider of goods and services wanted to feel they were worth a monetary remuneration.  This kind of pride is not a bad thing.  It causes people to work hard and be successful.

I would argue that, just as the exchange of real dollars indicates something of significant value has changed hands, so does bartering.  Each party’s goods and services are worth nothing less because the transaction is not evidenced by cash, check or credit.

We could benefit by resurrecting this tradition in this time of high unemployment, loss of equity in our home, diminishing wealth and general insecurity.  I recently made a great trade.  I had an old van I hadn’t been able to sell, and my yard was in desperate need of some tender loving care.  I traded the van in exchange for several days of landscape work.  The car is now out of my driveway and my neighbors are grateful my house looks inhabited again.  No money changed hands, but both parties got what we wanted and were exceedingly happy.

I’m aware the government frowns on this underground economy, as they don’t have their hands in your pocket 24-7.  I’m not exactly sure how or when such things are supposed to be reported.  I’m sure there is some IRS code governing this, and I plan to ask my tax man about it next spring.  In the meantime, I would love to trade homemade pies, cakes and cookies for some home repairs by a hungry handyman.

I think it would be totally awesome if our local papers added a Barter column to our Classifieds each day.  It would be interesting to see what we might find there.

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Elan Mudrow



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