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Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-22-2004, 04:43 PM   #1
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Should you pass up a "great deal"?

Our spending has improved tremendously in retirement because we have the time to do it right. Much of our stuff is repaired instead of pitched. We've learned to cherry-pick our purchases, especially now that we have plenty of storage space and we aren't moving every few years. We even keep track of local retailer's sales calendars and we scope out a potential deal for months. We watch the classifieds and we regularly shop Goodwill, too, so sometimes we'll buy just because we can trade up at a profit.

Yet earnings are another matter. I used to run a handyman hobby business and I still have a small group of neighborhood customers. Once or twice a year I'll get a call to install a light fixture or fix an oven or unclog a sink. I charge $25/hour plus materials and it's rarely more income than the cost of a good longboard. I'd do it for free but people seem happier to pay, so why make them uncomfortable?

But now we've been asked if we paint houses. (Of course we do!) Despite Hawaii's brutal sun, hardworking termites, & occasional torrential rain, many overcommitted homeowners get away with painting once a decade (or less) because there's no winter penalty for neglect. By the time some Hawaii homeowners are ready to paint, they're looking at a major carpentry/patching/cleaning/priming job before the first drop of paint will stick to the wall. $4000 estimates are common for a 3-BR single-story house, but I think spouse & I could do the job for $1000 & supplies. Efficient, honest, hard-working, no supervision required-- we're the best deal in town.

OTOH, why the heck would we want to do the job?!? One reason could be our frugal lifestyle-- both a habit and a personal challenge. Much of our frugality is unconscious reflex or just setting a good example for the kid. We certainly don't deprive ourselves, but we still enjoy picking up stray pennies and we scout the neighborhood discards on bulk-pickup day. Garage sales are a joy, and people know to call us if they're trying to dispose of building supplies or old furniture. Some of it ends up in our house, but a lot of it just goes to charity (of course for a tax deduction).

It's certainly not financial anxiety. We analyzed ER for months before we made the decision and we've both turned down several job offers. Employment is out there if we want it, but after two years we can't imagine why we would.

It's not boredom or loneliness, either. Three or four days of painting is a major liberty impact and subject to schedule conflicts. In fact several times Murphy's Law of Breakdowns & Family Crises has popped up just as I was ready to go do a job, and at the end of some days I've had quite enough of my fellow humans. While our own home is our best handyman's advertisement, there's plenty of maintenance & garage organizing to occupy my time. And I doubt that I'll ever get up in the morning and think "Oh damn, I have to go surfing AGAIN."

I sure don't want to rule the world's biggest handyman business-- that's too much commitment and REAL work.

I guess my motivation is that I'm flattered at being handed a thousand bucks to enjoy myself by shopping at home improvement stores, fixing things up, and spending a few hours outdoors with classic rock on the stereo. I've done my part to improve the neighborhood (and our property values!) and I can leave that much money in savings to compound its earnings.

Anyone else feeling their way through this? Is it a character quirk or just an age-related phase? Should I disengage and train myself to pass up these good deals so that I can go surfing instead? Or will I grow out of it by the time I'm as life-experienced as John Galt?

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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-22-2004, 05:27 PM   #2
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

Nords

I wouldn't waste a lot of time overthinking it. When it feels like work - switch to something else. At age 61, I won't even change the oil anymore - but I've fallen into being possesed by remodelling streaks on occasion in recent years - I just go with the flow until it works itself out. Every once in a while the 'this feels like work' twitch surfaces but I usually manage to finish and go on the wagon for a while.
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-22-2004, 05:38 PM   #3
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

I think unclemick has it about right. Go with the
flow and, for sure, don't worry about it.

Cheers,

Charlie
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-22-2004, 07:00 PM   #4
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

Like Uncle Mick, I'll be 61 in October, and don't do what I don't want to do. Painting houses is a non-starter for me. I do drive seniors (older than me ) to appointments, cut lawns, shovel snow in the winter, and do pall bearer services. 4 hours a day max. I make about $1000 month doing what I like. I'm happy, and I make sure Mrs. Zipper's gourmet supper is ready for her when she gets home.
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-22-2004, 10:01 PM   #5
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

Nords, I think you've got "ER guilt". Just because someone else might think it is work doesn't mean you can't enjoy it.

If you enjoy doing something that happens to generate income and maybe requires you to actually commit to something, so be it. I'm pretty sure that when I am ready to "cash in my chips" I will probably end up doing something that will require a commitment on my part and possibly some pay as well. However, I will be doing it because I want to, not because I have to. I think that as long as it makes you happy, it is worth doing and not sweating. Just make sure you don't allow yourself to be dragged in too deep.
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-22-2004, 10:35 PM   #6
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

Painting sounds like too much work and too much responsibility.
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-22-2004, 10:39 PM   #7
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

I'm sure you've already considered this, but given that you enjoy fixing-up houses and you're financially independent, why not buy fixers, fix them up at your leisure, and flip them? You get to scratch your handyman itch, perhaps make a significant difference in your portfolio size, and avoid the liability associated with doing good deeds for others.
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-23-2004, 12:27 AM   #8
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

My only comment is that if you enjoy doing it, go ahead and do it, but I sure as hell would not underprice the market like that. You will have all kinds of people asking you to paint their houses, and if you say no, it might cause friction if they are friends. Go just slightly under the $4000, say $3000 or so, but not 25% of the high ! I know each painting job needs to be evaluated seperately, but underpricing leads to lots of work and less pay. Just my $.02

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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-23-2004, 07:33 AM   #9
 
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

My $.02 is the same as panhead............

John Galt
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-23-2004, 07:43 AM   #10
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

You keep underpricing and the paint mafia's gonna come by and fit you for a nice pair of 5 gallon paint can shoes...
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Did this question hit a nerve?
Old 07-23-2004, 12:11 PM   #11
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Did this question hit a nerve?

I should point out that this post generated nine replies in 15 hours-- hardly an apathetic issue!

I hope I'm not wasting my time analyzing my reactions, especially since we parents spend an inordinate amount of the day on that with our kid. These types of questions are spurred mostly by curiosity. I like painting & fixing (don't tell my family) but I certainly don't have the patience for lawns, snow, or funerals.

We go back & forth on the rental & flipper issues. My spouse's parents rent from us, and even though they're the world's best tenants we still have occasional frustrations. Right now Oahu's only real-estate bargains are still smoldering or have "POLICE" tape across them (sometimes both). Spouse seems happy to take the lead on finding those and I'll just follow along with the checkbook. I don't mind looking at prospects (I'm the bad cop) but I'm more interested in analyzing the financial ROE, supervising the rehab schedule, and then doing a FSBO. I suspect that in a few years I'm gonna give up a lot of longboard time on that but I value marital harmony more highly than surfing. (So far.)

Good points on the pricing, Panhead & John. This is a pretty straightforward job-- a quick wash followed by one coat-- but I don't know how to go about pricing it. I wouldn't waste a professional's time on an estimate for a job that they wouldn't be doing. $1000 is my SWAG for the materials plus $25/hour labor, and I'm certainly doing it more for friendship than profit. Although I do need to replace the 8-foot board with something a little less waterlogged...
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Re: Alot of nerve ;-)
Old 07-23-2004, 08:20 PM   #12
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Re: Alot of nerve ;-)

Quote:
. . . Less the $175 above, leaves a week accomodations for $26! Top that - (w/o borrowing SGs truck/topper and parking in 'wallyworld')... *;D
Considering the price of gas here in AZ (> $2.00 per gallon) and the gas milage I get on my old Dodge RAM, I would have to sleep in the driveway to beat that price. ;D
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?
Old 07-24-2004, 03:33 AM   #13
 
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Re: Should you pass up a "great deal"?

It's FINAL here too. Not only do I not wish to live in ANY
metro area, I don't even want to visit. I make an exception for health care. Otherwise, I avoid them like the plague. Example: lots of folks around these parts
say "It's nice to be so close to the city!". I have not been in Chicago in at least 10 years, although I may have hit the edge passing through on the freeway.

John Galt
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