I saw a reference this week to an editorial by Ramit Sethi called Forget Frugality. While he has some good points, I think some of his advice is counterproductive and even contradictory. He argues that you should focus on earnings and negotiation instead of trying to actively cut costs.
I really think you have to do a combination of the three, and you should start with what you have the most control over, which is your own budget. Here’s what I have to say about his seven strategies. Read more
I’m fixing up a house that has an Americana (a GE budget brand) gas range in it. One of the last things I did before getting the St. Louis County inspection was to check to see if it had an anti-tip bracket installed. It did, so I didn’t worry about it. The house failed inspection based on two things, basically–a dead battery in the smoke detector downstairs (funny, I installed that about two months ago), and the anti-tip bracket.
The bracket that came with this range is a little different. Rather than grab the leg like most anti-tip brackets, this one grabs a hook on the back of the stove. The problem with mine was that the bracket couldn’t reach the hook on the back of the stove. The gas line comes through the floor about an inch from the wall, so the stove can’t sit close enough to the wall for the bracket to catch. Further investigation revealed that even if the bracket could have reached, it wouldn’t have done much since it was only screwed into drywall. The stove’s weight would have pulled it straight out.
But the remedy was simple and only involved a two-foot scrap of 2×4.
My wife found an unflattering piece about landlords in the Huffington Post titled 9 things your landlord won’t tell you. This sorry excuse for an expose just makes accusations, without backing any of it up.
I’m a landlord. Here’s what I have to say about those nine things.
I’m sure all landlords have a story like this, but let me tell you my garbage disposal story. I don’t know what the last occupant put in that disposal, and I don’t want to know. What I do know is that it was completely seized up and wouldn’t run.
The motor hummed, which I know from years of tinkering with old Lionel and Marx electric trains that meant the motor wasn’t completely dead, so I had to find a way to free up whatever was keeping the motor from turning.
The usual fix is to use a garbage disposal wrench (which is really just an allen wrench–so you can use any allen wrench that fits) to spin the motor in both directions until it turns freely. There’s a little key in the center of the underside where the wrench goes. Mine wouldn’t budge. I wasn’t being wimpy either–I’d lean on it to the point where the disposal itself was shifting in its mount, but the motor stubbornly refused to go anywhere.
At this point I’d about written it off. A 1/3 horsepower Waste King Legend disposal costs around $55 online, and sometimes you can get their low-end half-horse unit for around $5 more, so I figured I didn’t have a whole lot to lose, and I knew I couldn’t make the disposal any worse.
I recently came into possession of an LG LD301EL dehumidifier. It was supposed to be draining out of the hose, but it wasn’t. I figured out why.
If you have one of these or a similar dehumidifier, chances are you have the same problem. The instructions on the back of the dehumidifier aren’t as clear as they could be and the diagrams are tiny. The manual doesn’t quite seem to explain it either. If you don’t have the manual and don’t want to download one from a dodgy web site–and as a computer security professional I recommend that you don’t (more on that at the end)–here’s how to get it done.
As I was getting a property ready for inspection, I had to take care of some electrical issues. All of them were trivial, except one. In the end, I had one last dead electrical outlet to figure out.
All of the advice I found online said to call a professional. All of it. Here’s the exception, and here’s how I found it.
A coworker expects to inherit a two-bedroom house in the next few years and asked for some advice on getting started as a landlord.
Getting started as a landlord is all about learning and following a simple formula. Learn the formula and follow it, and it’s extremely difficult to go wrong.
The Consumerist posted five warning signs that a Craigslist rental listing is probably a scam. As a landlord looking on from that side of it, I generally agree with it. Here’s a landlord’s take on avoiding Craigslist rental scams.
The kitchen cabinets in the house we live in have seen better days. They were reasonably well-built, but 50 years of raising families–mine is the third family raised in this house–took their toll on them. A couple of years back we painted them, to cover the scars of the years. It was an improvement, but the color dated itself pretty quickly, and we didn’t use the highest-quality paint, so the finish wore fairly quickly.
This time, we repainted them white. We used an expensive Benjamin Moore Decorator White in semi-gloss, because it looks good, but also because we’ve found it to be durable in other projects. And you’d be surprised how many half-million-dollar houses have white-painted cabinets. I’m an estate sale junkie, so I’ve seen a lot of half-million-dollar houses over the years, and I would estimate 40% of them have simple, white cabinets in their kitchens. It’s a look that doesn’t date itself, and is cheap and easy to take care of. (As a point of reference, a modest three-bedroom ranch house in the same county costs around $125,000.)
I’ve also seen people do this to improve the appearance of a house prior to flipping it.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had a good, short piece on landlording. It’s pretty good, but misses a couple of things.