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The Advice Thread


chasfh
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Looking back, I’m surprised that there was never a thread established in which we MTSers (or MTFers, if you prefer) could share general advice with each other about any number of things. There were a few one-off threads for specific instances, but no general catch-all thread.

So, I thought I would take a hack at establishing such a thread right here, right now.

I figure this thread could manifest itself in two ways: (1) people who need advice and want to ask it of people they know only from an online forum, which is valuable in its own right under certain circumstances; and (2) people who have useful advice they want to proactively share, simply because they are bursting with love and concern for their fellow MTFer. (Yup, that’s the one I’m going with here.)

I’m thinking the advice could cover basically any topic, really: life, love, money, home, career, leisure, products, etc., etc., etc. Anything that affects our daily lives. (Except sex. Please, no sex advice! 😜)

JK on that last one.

No I’m not.

Whatever.

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OK, I’ll start with some proactive advice.

Don’t you just love going to a dealer to buy a new car, seeing one you want, and then spending hours or even days wrestling with any number of salespeople and their managers for the adversarial purpose of trying to wring every last dollar out of each other? Yeah, me neither.

Last time I did that was over, of all things, a Honda Accord. I remember it taking over an hour at the end trying to get the guy under $19,000, they’re trying to keep me well above that, managers are shuttling in and out of the room to combat me, and we settle on $19,050. I walked away with my stomach in knots. One of my worst purchase experiences ever.

The next time I bought a car, I decided that rather than going through that nonsense again, instead of working in person with a dealer on a car I see on the lot, I decided to determine the exact car I want first, then bid that car out to multiple dealers.

First step: “build” the car you want, down to each individual option, then determine the MSRP and Invoice cost on the car. You can do that fairly easily online at a few different websites.

Next, develop a list of dealers to bid the car out to. You should probably plan to contact at least ten to start; more depending on how ambitious you are. Make an initial phone call (not email) to the new car sales manager and tell them, I am definitely buying a car in the next few weeks, I’m contacting several dealers and will go with the one that gives me the best price, and do you want to participate? At least 80% of them will say yes, many of them eagerly. Then ask for their email address.

After you have the list of participants in hand, email an identical letter to each one: I am ready to buy a car, I’m asking for proposals from a number of dealers, and I will buy from the dealer who gives me the best price. Here’s the car I want, and list out every option, all with their Invoice and MSRP, along with the totals for the whole car, so they know that you know what their costs are. Also tell them you’re aware of whatever buyer incentives there are, and to NOT factor those into the final price. Also, if you can afford to, tell them you are NOT offering them a trade-in, since they can manipulate their bid based on that. Try to keep the trade-in part separate from the purchase part.

Then tell them that after you get all the first bids from everyone, you will report the best bid to all participants and give them just one shot at beating that price. Tell them that second-round bid will be final, and that you will contact the winner at that point to finalize the deal, discuss financing, and arrange to sign paperwork. You don't want to go back to the well more than twice, because that's unseemly and leaves a bad taste with them. (When you do move into the second round, start with the highest bid dealer and work backwards to the best bid dealer, so that the best bid gets better as you move toward the initial first round best bid.)

Then, and this is important: be sure to follow through exactly on this plan. Do this only if you are 100% certain you are buying car. Otherwise, they’ll remember you next time you try this and it might not work so well.

I’ve bought my last four cars using this method and not only have I saved thousands of dollars each time, but as importantly, I’ve avoided the knots in my stomach from the angst of going back and forth with an adversary much better trained and more experienced to do so than I could ever be. After all, you negotiate with a dealer only once every few years—they do it as their job every single day.

Try this next time you buy a car. You won't regret it.

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Now, here’s some advice I will ask for here—more like, does this look right to you?

We’ve been getting water damage in the first floor ceiling near the back door. After some investigation, it turns out that the flashing behind the vinyl siding, which is supposed to be the last line of defense against moisture getting into the house, was likely improperly installed toward the area near the bottom of the second floor, off where a balcony had been installed when the house was built. The company who discovered this don’t work with house siding, so we had to find another company who does to look into it.

After a couple companies going dark on us after an initial consult (probably because they’re slammed with business during COVID times and the job is too small potatoes for them), we found a company through the old Angie’s List who were willing to give us an estimate to fix the problem.

Their solution: remove existing siding from the rear wall of house only; install TYVEK housewrap; tape all seams with TYVEK seam tape; install DOW high performance underlayment insulation; install CertainTeed Monogram vinyl siding; all work to be hand nailed; trim patio door.

Cost: $14,969, not including any replacement lumber and labor needed if they have to remove and replace any of the balcony permanently to complete the job.

Setting aside that there was no mention of replacing the flashing (which was identified as the problem in the first place, and which I am following up with them on), 15 large seems like a lot-a lot of money to pay for this kind of remove-and-replace job for just one side of the house, and the smallest side, by a long shot, to boot.

So my question is: does anyone have a feel for whether this is a fair price? I’m not saying this is a simple job by any means, but … wow, that’s a lot of money for what they've described.

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3 hours ago, chasfh said:

Now, here’s some advice I will ask for here—more like, does this look right to you?

We’ve been getting water damage in the first floor ceiling near the back door. After some investigation, it turns out that the flashing behind the vinyl siding, which is supposed to be the last line of defense against moisture getting into the house, was likely improperly installed toward the area near the bottom of the second floor, off where a balcony had been installed when the house was built. The company who discovered this don’t work with house siding, so we had to find another company who does to look into it.

After a couple companies going dark on us after an initial consult (probably because they’re slammed with business during COVID times and the job is too small potatoes for them), we found a company through the old Angie’s List who were willing to give us an estimate to fix the problem.

Their solution: remove existing siding from the rear wall of house only; install TYVEK housewrap; tape all seams with TYVEK seam tape; install DOW high performance underlayment insulation; install CertainTeed Monogram vinyl siding; all work to be hand nailed; trim patio door.

Cost: $14,969, not including any replacement lumber and labor needed if they have to remove and replace any of the balcony permanently to complete the job.

Setting aside that there was no mention of replacing the flashing (which was identified as the problem in the first place, and which I am following up with them on), 15 large seems like a lot-a lot of money to pay for this kind of remove-and-replace job for just one side of the house, and the smallest side, by a long shot, to boot.

So my question is: does anyone have a feel for whether this is a fair price? I’m not saying this is a simple job by any means, but … wow, that’s a lot of money for what they've described.

yeah - It's hard to know what fair means anymore in an environment where you can't find enough people willing to do a job to even get multiple quotes.🤷‍♂️

A general question on one point though: How old is the existing siding? if it's not pretty new then it may make sense to replace the whole wall because you probably can't get a color match (even for white) with weathered vinyl and vinyl siding doesn't last forever anyway.  

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47 minutes ago, gehringer_2 said:

yeah - It's hard to know what fair means anymore in an environment where you can't find enough people willing to do a job to even get multiple quotes.🤷‍♂️

A general question on one point though: How old is the existing siding? if it's not pretty new then it may make sense to replace the whole wall because you probably can't get a color match (even for white) with weathered vinyl and vinyl siding doesn't last forever anyway.  

That would be for replacing the whole wall, exactly because of the color match issue.

I think I was expecting maybe five-ish. But I have no sense of proper scale when it comes to this kind of thing. Your comment on lack of multiple quotes may be on point.

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6 minutes ago, Motown Bombers said:

Everything is better with a bag of weed. You don't need meth and you don't need speed because everything is better with a bag of weed. 

so there is a Hallmark card shop in the Kroger mall in west A^2. Staffed almost wholey by little old ladies. They are now selling CBD oil. Sorry but that just cracks me up.

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2 hours ago, Motor City Sonics said:

Never eat spinach with a stranger.

I had to look it up because it sounded soooooo familiar.  Was it the Popeye movie with Robin Williams...nope.

I remember sitting in the store with my dad on more than a couple occasions when he was trying to haggle with a sales person to buy a TV or something.  He always loved the new tech, but almost never could afford it so when he did go it was an event.

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25 minutes ago, John_Brian_K said:

I had to look it up because it sounded soooooo familiar.  Was it the Popeye movie with Robin Williams...nope.

I remember sitting in the store with my dad on more than a couple occasions when he was trying to haggle with a sales person to buy a TV or something.  He always loved the new tech, but almost never could afford it so when he did go it was an event.

 

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I love finding old stuff like Highland Appliance commercials on You Tube.   I still quote those commercials 40 years later and only people my age have any idea................"50 watts per channel, Babycakes",   "Popcorn's really tender tonight, dear", "Johnathan can't come out and play right now, he's practicing the piano" and my all-time favorite  "Sound great, Hackett?  Yippee".   

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7 minutes ago, Motor City Sonics said:

I love finding old stuff like Highland Appliance commercials on You Tube.   I still quote those commercials 40 years later and only people my age have any idea................"50 watts per channel, Babycakes",   "Popcorn's really tender tonight, dear", "Johnathan can't come out and play right now, he's practicing the piano" and my all-time favorite  "Sound great, Hackett?  Yippee".   

practicing the piano was one of my all time fav's - esp since I was a reel-to-reel tape nerd at that age myself. No piano lessons though....:classic_sad:

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1 hour ago, Motor City Sonics said:

I love finding old stuff like Highland Appliance commercials on You Tube...

I was searching for years for a favorite commercial of mine, and didn't see it pop up until a couple years ago...

It wasn't about the words... it was an old Volkswagon commercial from the late 90's done to the tune of "Da Da Da", by the Trio. They always had cool commercials... but this one stuck with me as one of the coolest because of the song... 

And since I have a love affair with the Cowboy Junkies... I loved their song being used as the anthem for (I forget... Carnival? Royal Caribbean?) all during the early 90's commercials...

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20 minutes ago, 1984Echoes said:

I was searching for years for a favorite commercial of mine, and didn't see it pop up until a couple years ago...

It wasn't about the words... it was an old Volkswagon commercial from the late 90's done to the tune of "Da Da Da", by the Trio. They always had cool commercials... but this one stuck with me as one of the coolest because of the song... 

And since I have a love affair with the Cowboy Junkies... I loved their song being used as the anthem for (I forget... Carnival? Royal Caribbean?) all during the early 90's commercials...

Volkswagon's "Unpimp Ze Auto" commercials with the dour-looking guy from Fargo (Peter Stormare) just to crack me up.  

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On 10/18/2021 at 12:12 PM, John_Brian_K said:

Shop your home and car insurance at least once a year.

 

When we moved 3 years ago, our insurance went thru the roof.  I finally did something about it this summer.  I took a copy of the dec page from our then current insurer & sent it to the new one. I said I want this policy, exactly. Tell me now much & I'll tell you whether you got a deal.  They came in at less than half the price.  I was thrilled.

Fast forward 4 months - I get a notice from my credit union, who told me about this insurer, & they say we can't accept this policy because it doesn't include comp & collision.  Now I realize it's my own fault - I should have read it better & asked the right questions - but I know for a fact I had comp & collision. Now I have to once again shop around. I hate this so much.

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23 minutes ago, djhutch said:

When we moved 3 years ago, our insurance went thru the roof.  I finally did something about it this summer.  I took a copy of the dec page from our then current insurer & sent it to the new one. I said I want this policy, exactly. Tell me now much & I'll tell you whether you got a deal.  They came in at less than half the price.  I was thrilled.

Fast forward 4 months - I get a notice from my credit union, who told me about this insurer, & they say we can't accept this policy because it doesn't include comp & collision.  Now I realize it's my own fault - I should have read it better & asked the right questions - but I know for a fact I had comp & collision. Now I have to once again shop around. I hate this so much.

It is not fun, but if you want to save money it is something you have to do.  I actually had Progressive for about 10 years straight about 2 years ago when the rate went up because of the removal of unlimited PIP being a requirement in Michigan...I wanted to keep unlimited even though it costs a lot more because I am a responsible adult who does not want to put the burden of my care into someone elses hands if the unthinkable happens.  I ended up getting the same coverage for a little less than I was spending monthly before it shot up.

It is all about timing.  I am executor on my parents estate and I shopped their insurance about a year ago.  They had been with AAA for like 40 years...they were being taken advantage of bigtime.  My dad has always been hush about his finances until he decided he wanted some help managing it.  I got his for almost 200.00 less a month.  They just did not want to bother with it...it is hard to blame older people who do not have a grip on the new tech.  It took me a few days to get everything together that would have taken them months for sure.

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