Life Hack: Use Yelp To Save You Stress, Time, And Money

New Roof Bitumen

New Modified Bitumen Roof

Ever since paying $225 for 15 minutes worth of handyman work, I’ve been trying to figure out what the best way is to improve customer service, get out of hostage negotiation scenarios, and stop getting ripped off.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make or have, getting ripped off is a bad, bad feeling. Not being able to resist a free lunch no matter how much you’re worth is the same idea in reverse. Everybody wants to feel like they are getting a good deal.

After going through some bad deals with my interior painters, electricians, and hardwood floor finishers, I’ve devised a solid system that should help me and many of you in the future.

The internet is the great equalizer that will save us all!

Why Home Remodeling Always Takes Longer And Costs More Than Expected

Amazing, Expensive, KitchenMy general contractor, who is also my tennis teammate, was making fun of me for spending $6,000 for replacing my 40 year old gravity furnace that was lined with asbestos. I needed to replace all my ducts and vacuum seal my house for a day to prevent any asbestos from escaping as part of the replacement and permit process.

“I could have done it for $2,000!” he said as he tried to make me feel bad about my decision.

So when my general contractor came back to me with a bid of $9,000 to paint the interior of my house, patch, tape, and sand all holes in the walls, I almost threw up in amazement. My house has some nice crown moldings and standard baseboards, but everything else is pretty normal. “$9,000 is a great price,” he said with a serious face.

Because I thought $9,000 was ludicrously expensive, I declined his bid and found another fella I worked with in the past for $7,000. After he discovered I was going with another fella, my general contractor then came back to me and said I was wasting my money because these new guys he knows can paint my interior for only $5,800!

What the HELL! How is it possible that he honestly thought $9,000 was a good initial price when he now says he can do it for $3,200 less (36%) after I found someone else? Once again, he’s trying to make me feel bad for spending more than I should. He was hoping I’d take his bait at $9,000, and was gambling that I had no other resources. Little did he know that I’m the most resourceful person ever. If I am wronged, I will go to any length to fix the situation.

Everything began to unravel after this incident.

Are Your Short-Term Actions Ruining Your Long-Term Wealth?

Long Term Gain

Long Dhosas Taste Better

I must be the biggest donkey on Earth because I just spent an egregious amount on a handyman to fix some things. I’ve had a funky bathroom window that would not close properly for years in my main San Francisco rental. I tried to fix it, but couldn’t. My tenants never complained over the years, so I let it be. The window is in a small bathroom without a vent, so having the window slightly cracked open helps relieve moisture.

Then one fine summer day my tenant’s neighbor below decided to start grilling on their little deck. Smoke would waft into the bathroom and through the rest of the apartment. So when my tenant texted me to fix the window, I said “no problem” and found a handyman on Craigslist immediately. He is actually a licensed contractor on Craigslist with “no job too big or too small.” In retrospect, I used a sledge hammer to push in a thumbtack.

He stopped over to visit my tenant directly and gave an estimate for $225. I told my tenant to tell the handyman everything else she’d like fixing while he was there besides the window. She mentioned a broken dimmer switch, and a faucet cap that needed replacing. Perfect. Fixing three things in one visit every year or two isn’t that bad.

Although $225 sounded steep at the time, I agreed to the estimate because I figured he would take at least an hour to do all the work, buy the parts, and commute back and forth for two visits. I was also happy to not have to physically go out there and meet the handyman for either visit. I asked the handyman whether I could get a discount if the work took less than a couple hours, and he said it was flat fee. Fine.

I told my tenant to tell me how long he took to fix everything so I could see whether I was getting my money’s worth. She texted back, “Maybe 15 minutes, no more.”

Damn! What a moron I am!

Five Sure Signs It’s Time To Move On From Your Job

move-on

Grey Skies On The Horizon

At some point or another, you will be passed over for a raise or promotion. The goal is to actually start strategizing about your future BEFORE this unfortunate event occurs.

Perhaps part of the reason why some men make more than some women is because men are more aggressive in having the compensation talk with management. Back when I was working on Wall Street, I made sure I had a very serious heart-to-heart talk every two years with my bosses about compensation and promotion. I very clearly laid out my goals about when I wanted to get promoted, and how much I was looking to make, in a respectful way of course.

Before each sit down, I made sure my performance to date was solid. I included a short five-to-eight page powerpoint presentation to demonstrate the progress of the business under my leadership. The goal was to make it easy for them to pay and promote me, and it worked. By 27 I was promoted to VP and then to Director by 31 where I stayed for three years until I left to focus on writing.

Towards the end of my career I knew that I would never reach Managing Director. I would have needed to relocate to Hong Kong or New York, and then prove myself for another three years before getting the nod. My manager was at least five years older than me based in NY and wasn’t even an MD. How the heck was I ever going to get ahead? I wasn’t. Once we realize our limitations, we must be happy with what we have or do something. I always like taking action, so I negotiated a severance.

Feel You Have To Donate To Your College Alma Mater?

Jon Stewart W&M Alumn

Jon Stewart W&M Alum

Recently I was contacted by an old college classmate to donate to our 15th reunion at The College of William & Mary. He told me our reunion fundraising goal was $500,000 and we’re at about $323,000.

I told him, “Sure, no problem,” and proceeded to forget about the pledge until I got the gift request in the mail. The solicitation gave me the options of giving $19.99, $50, $100, $250, $500, Other, or a 5-year pledge of $X. Payment methods included credit card, check, or donating directly online with the option of designating where my gift will go. Nice job making it easy for alumni to give guys.

I was all ready to write a check for $200, when I started thinking back to my interactions with my classmate. We studied abroad together in Beijing in 1997 and I remember him hooking up with a girl right after I had hooked up with her a month earlier while we were still in Virginia! The girl and my ex and him were all going to Beijing. It made for a somewhat awkward situation where our small study abroad group ended up being dividend into two groups: 1) the super cool group, and 2) the not so cool group (his group and the girl of course).

By the time we landed in Beijing, I had already made amends with my ex-girlfriend, so it’s not like I was jealous or angry of my classmate for messing around with this other girl. It was just weird as can be – like a love trapezoid. As a young man, you’re trained to emotionally move on quickly or else. Think back to your college days when it was just one big love fest. You don’t recall? Hmm. Maybe it was just us then.

Anyway, thanks to the wrong reunion co-chair contacting me, I’m not so sure if I should give anything at all. Instead, I’d rather spend an hour writing this fun post and discuss the topic with all of you.