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As Long as We Remember...

March 19, 2008

Have a Happy Recession

Tom McLaughlin

Hanging around a redneck bar gives one a certain window on the economy. I have spoken to painters, dry wallers, contractors, roofers and others. I discovered that the ones who have done quality work in the past and have a good reputation have more business than they can handle.


They also price a job fairly. Those on the margins are hurting. But one must be careful even with those who have a good rep.


Case in point. I have no knowledge of the construction trade and – when confronted with a hammer, nail and picture – I burst into tears. Therefore, I searched for a contractor to redo my Middletown house.


I acquired a bid from the son of a friend who had a good reputation He quoted me $100,000 for a complete remake except for the basement without new windows. I told a few friends and they said I was out of my mind. The job turned out to be around $40,000 with the windows and many other extras. The contractor took advantage of my friendship with his parents.


Moral: Get bids from several contractors with good reputations.


The Yacht Club bar also taught me a few things. Believe it or not, some of the lawyers are hurting. One law office here at the beach hired scads on new attorneys during the building boom and now they are looking for work.


The title search, deed preparation and other stuff related to property transfer can now be handled by the principles and they are not going to pass the jobs to their hirelings.


Now is the time to get legal work done. Wills, separation agreements, friendly divorces and traffic violations can all be negotiated. My advice is to not pay a dime more than $150 an hour. Try to get it cheaper. Don’t skimp if you’re hauled in on murder charges though.


According to a recent survey, most people are waiting to purchase a new television set. It seems we are going to be patient and wait out this economic malaise. This makes good sense. Save money instead of going on expensive vacations, eating out and purchasing unnecessary items because you don’t really know if your job is safe or not. Unless you’re with the government. The world could end and you would still have a job.


I have bought four digital flat screens in recent months and have stuck with the Samsung brand as recommended by Consumer Reports. I also followed their advice and bought one size up from what I thought I needed and am very happy.


However, I acquired all the sets while they were on sale. I purchased them from Circuit City over the Internet and I went to the local store to pick them up. Internet purchase/store pick up saved me $100 and sometimes $250 on the sets below the advertised sale price.


I asked the sales clerks why, and they said it was very frustrating because customer after customer walked in with the same story. Also watch for coupons and discounts for all the extras you will need such as cables and television stands.


Forget the hang-on-the-wall stuff. It costs a fortune to have someone come out and do it for you. The warranty isn’t any good if the set crashes to the floor while you try to mount it yourself.


If you suffer from heart problems, nerves, or any another sickness affected by changes in your financial situation, get out of the stock market now. Buy treasury bonds. You will be much better off than in an alcohol rehab clinic or the Coo coos’ nest.


However, if you are in it for the long term, as I am, don’t bother looking at the business section. Cancel your subscription to the Wall Street Journal and just let things ride. The presidential elections are circus enough and you will be much better off watching the Hillary-Obama Show than the market fluctuations. Check your monthly statements and I think you will find you are much better off than you thought.


Comparison shop for home contractors among those with good reputations, negotiate with lawyers, save money, stay home, hunker down, watch the newfangled televisions on sale through the Internet, ignore the stock market and we can all have a happy recession.


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