On "Secrets" to Buying a House Without Getting Hosed

Sure, the buyer’s realtor’s commission technically comes out of the seller’s pot at the end, but money is fungible. Think about it this way: you have to pay 3% more (your realtor’s commission) to the seller, just so they can then send that along to your realtor at the end, than if you didn’t have a realtor. I just bought a house and was willing to do all of the work of finding and looking at the thing myself, so I negotiated with a realtor that she would handle just the negotiation for the place I was interested in, at $250/hour. Negotiations were a little complicated, so I ended up paying her $2,500. Then at the closing, the 3% commission that would have gone to my realtor (over $10k) was given to ME as a credit. Lots of money saved, even with the negotiation-complications. You have to (1) find a willing realtor, and (2) be willing to do the finding working yourself though.

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm 0

On Taking a Pay Cut

I took a big one about a month ago--six figures down to 0. I hope it ends up being worth it! I think it will--the job is with the federal government (which has no money, hence no salary to offer), and it's only a one year position, but it's exactly the experience and the change I wanted. My husband recently finished school, so now his salary can tide us over in the same way that mine did before.

Posted on November 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm 0

On I Bought a House With Money I Made From Airbnb

@e So just to respond to a few points -- (1) since the "business" is in SF, he is probably paying some sort of SF tax on his receipts; (2) the tourists who rent the apartment will be eating in the neighborhood, shopping in the neighborhood, and generally paying the SF sales taxes (and arguably people on vacation spend more than someone who is not).

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm 0

On When Things Fall Apart: The Cost of Divorce

@TheclaAndTheSeals I think some states require that each party have a lawyer, but not others. And one party having a lawyer while the other does not is a red flag generally. But my spouse and I just did our own research and wrote our own pre-nup and we feel confident that it's enforceable and fair. We didn't investigate the mediator-route because we didn't feel the need, but we did wonder if that was an option--hence my throwing it out here. I just think it's worth trying to think outside the lawyer-box in this (and generally).

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm 0

On When Things Fall Apart: The Cost of Divorce

@karrrren What about sitting down with a mediator to write a prenup? Has anyone does this? Seems like this could theorectically solve some problems -- the mediator wouldn't "represent" either you or your husband, but could just facilitate the process, and the costs could be limited to the mediation session.

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm 1

On How's That $148,000 Law Degree Working Out for You

@Tuna Surprise Agreed, this person is ridiculous. One "yearlong fellowship" apparently does not a lawyer make. Signed, a lawyer since 2007

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm 1

On A Person With $100K in a Trust Fund

@rorow My husband and I have a prenup. I don't even remember who brought it up, but we think of it as more than merely a bet on the marriage not lasting. For us, it defines the ownership of property within our marriage -- for example, once we were married, I had to stop trying to get priority on using the car, since though I owned it before the marriage, now we owned it jointly. Same deal with our salaries. And then the prenup also happens to specify that inheritances can be set aside from our joint ownership regime if you follow certain steps. This might be a way to make the prenup more palatable and make clear that you're not against sharing salary money or other property, but that there is simply something special about money handed down from a family member.

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 4:37 pm 0

On A Conversation With a Single Mom Living on $40,000 a Year

@pernickety Also -- I don't know much about divorce law/loan consolidation/bankruptcy, so I'm speculating, but if she can't find the original loan paperwork that lists these loans, what if she made the argument that: (1) this is a Department of Education-consolidated loan; (2) therefore the original loans were education loans; (3) the education she has is a B.A. from a state university, which would only cost $x, maximum; (4) her ex-husband has more much costly education; and (5) since the amount of the loan is greater than $x, the loan is not from her education. Maybe this only shows that some portion of the loan is from the ex, but better than nothing. Is there a way to make this argument?

Posted on April 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm 0

On A Conversation With a Single Mom Living on $40,000 a Year

Is there a way to get the child support increased? It seems like she's calibrating her expenses on her children to the child support she receives very carefully (3/8 of the rent + 1/2 the childcare + 3/8 of utilities + 3/8 of groceries + 1/2 medication + 3/8 internet/cable = $1524.88), but clearly that's not enough to pay for presents, clothes, summer childcare, etc. The mere fact that she has to ask for clothing donations seems like a powerful fact to to cite when asking for more child support. I also wonder if there are organizations that would help her negotiate the legal system so she wouldn't have to pay for a lawyer.

Posted on April 22, 2013 at 6:04 pm 0

On It's Hard to Feel Empowered With a Secret Trust Fund

I do not have kids and so have not had to put my money where my mouth is yet, but one thing that appeals to me about sending my kids to private school is that I think parents of private-school kids, because they are paying for their kid's education more directly, can be more (successfully) demanding about getting what their kid wants and/or needs. For example, if my kid was really good at math and was too bored in their 4th grade math class, I'd ask the school to let my kid attend the 5th grade math class or opt out of the 4th grade math class entirely and spend that time doing self- or tutor-directed math out of workbooks. I'd be surprised if I couldn't get something along those lines in a private school, but I have the feeling (and would love to hear others' experiences) that public schools are less likely to cooperate.

Posted on April 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm 0