Estate sale tips for buyers

I talked earlier this week about garage sales, but what about estate sale tips for buyers? The overall strategy is similar, but there are definitely tips that apply specifically to estate sales.

So what is an estate sale? Imagine an oversized garage sale. Essentially, the family is liquidating everything in the house. Of course you find a lot of the same things you’d find at a garage sale, but at a good estate sale, there will be high-dollar items too.

So, without further ado, here are my 18 hard-won estate sale tips for buyers.

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My Toyota says key battery low

I got a scary message from my 2011 Toyota Camry. “Key battery low,” the message on the dashboard read. You can read that two ways. “Key” could mean they keyfob that unlocks and starts the car. Or “key” could mean “critical.” Fortunately, when a Toyota says key battery low, it means the key that unlocks and starts the car.

You can fix this yourself and you don’t have to find a Toyota dealer.

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AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum Internet

I’ve had high speed Internet for about as long as anyone in my ZIP code–as soon as DSL was available, I signed up and paid through the nose for it. It took a while for fiber to become an option, but I switched once I did. I’ve been a Southwestern Bell/AT&T customer for a good 17 years. Over the years I weighed it and AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum.

Recently I switched to Charter though. There are pros and cons to each of them, so I thought going through them might be helpful. Keep in mind Charter recently acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, so this applies to former Time Warner Cable and Bright House areas as well.

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A DVR without a subscription

What if I told you that you could have a DVR without a subscription that worked with free over-the-air antenna-based TV, and it cost less than $35, saving those subscription fees month after month?

It’s called the Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB. If you want to record and time-shift television without loss of quality and without paying a fortune in subscription fees, it’s a tremendous value. You have to provide an antenna–which you can even make yourself–and USB-based storage, but it means you can get whatever capacity you want, and if you fill up a drive, just get another one.

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Save money on appliances

If you want to save money on appliances, I have some unconventional advice: Buy used. Yes, really. Here’s how to buy used (or refurbished) appliances and save big money without getting ripped off.

I’ve had a number of friends get hit recently with appliance breakdowns they couldn’t afford, and since I’m a landlord, I’ve probably bought a lifetime’s worth of appliances in the last seven years. A dead appliance doesn’t have to turn into a financial catastrophe.

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Here’s a better laptop than the typical Black Friday specials

If you want a better laptop than the typical Black Friday special, I found just the thing: this Dell Latitude E6420 laptop from Newegg, for $225 (the price is good through Sunday, Nov. 22). It has several things going for it: it comes with Windows 7 Professional, so you can upgrade to Windows 10 when you want and you’ll get the better, more-feature-filled, easier-to-secure Professional version; you can upgrade the memory to 8 GB of RAM, and it comes with a 128GB SATA SSD, so you can drop in a bigger, faster SSD at a later date.

Note: When Newegg sells out of these, which happens occasionally, they’re fairly easy to find on Ebay, though some come with conventional hard drives rather than SSDs.

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Plywood floors for a hardwood look at around $1 per sqft

A comment over at Lifehacker got me thinking about plywood as flooring, which led me to a blog post at Quarry Orchard. The author is one of many people who have had success making floors out of strips cut from ordinary 4×8 sheets of plywood, the variety that sell for around $14 at home improvement stores.

I’d be a bit concerned about durability but there’s a lot to like about the idea as well.

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