Article on Lifehacker

I like Lifehacker (albeit you have to weed out a lot of garbage at times) but this article makes a ton of sense.

I have been making this comment to EVERYONE I know who is making a major purchase (engagement ring, car, house, home theater system, etc) for at least 25 years now. I have many times offered to be the shopping buddy for people (both male and female) when they need an unbiased opinion. 90% of the time I have been thanked for coming along because I saved that person from making a potentially expensive mistake.

Dave Ramsey pushes a financial buddy even for budgeting at the beginning of the month. Someone to both keep them on track and remind them to pay themselves first. It’s easy on a written budget to turn into your own little Hitler, having a partner to remind you that you are allowed to have fun, and should budget for it because you’ll spend it anyway. This way you have your fun, and don’t feel guilty.

Lots of young people make a big deal of buying their first car or house without their parents or any help. I did it on my house. I effectively did it on my car because I brought my dad and he got sold right next to me. So, get a partner, but make sure they aren’t going to make it worse trying to make you happy, or out of ignorance.

I’m 42 years old, and I asked non-invested people to check my new house out. MY wife and I do this for each other, but sometimes it can get risky. There is a bit of, “If I let them do this then I can get my thing past them.”

It’s definitely a good idea to get an unbiased, though educated, opinion when making large purchases/doing big, adult stuff.

We did this recently as we plan on moving out of state and had to look through apartments. We had our sister-in-law tag along (as they had made the out of state move years ago, lessons learned and what-not) and it was a major help. We knew the area, but we weren’t aware of some of the things to keep an eye out for. It was extremely beneficial. That said, there were points where it comes down to taste. If their taste isn’t the same as yours, don’t be surprised if they’re turned off to the item/thing/noun.

One specific event I remember was when a buddy of mine (who is 10+ years older than I am) and his wife were buying their first house. They had been renting forever and were looking at homes in our area so they asked me and my wife to go with them as they looked at houses. Houses they were in love with my wife and I quickly shot down for a myriad of reasons.

The other time was when I purchases my wife’s “belated” engagement ring. I was pretty cash strapped when I was planning to propose so I told her once I got on my feet, I would get her a “proper” engagement ring. 4 years after we were married she spotted the perfect ring in a jewelry store window with a big price tag. She took me to go see it and talk to the salesman. I got all the pertinent info about the ring and began my research. My wife insisted on going with me to get the ring and I told that was ok under one condition. She had to let me “do my thing” and not say a word during the process. She did not seem to mind but to make a long story short when we got there and listened to him and watched his body language I made him an offer at almost 50% less than the asking price (thanx to my research). He scoffed and said he could not sell. I gave him our home number and said he had until Sunday Afternoon (it was Friday evening after work) to think about it before I took my search else ware. He slipped up by saying he bought it almost a year ago…no serious buyers and it keeping it around was not helping him at all.

My wife cringed and said that we would not get it and just as I predicted, he called us Sunday late morning while we were at church and said that he was willing to sell at the price I set. It felt good to not pay the overly inflated rate he wanted when I knew that I could get something comparable for less someplace else.

My wife did the same for me when I went new truck shopping, way back when I had a Dodge Dakota. I fell in love with it but I knew it could be an emotional buy so I took my wife and she kept me grounded on that purchase.

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After my Escape got hit last year, I took my buddy with me car shopping. Partially because it is more fun with a friend, partially because he is a good voice of reason… Twitchy, the guy who’s wife calls me his evil twin. I test drove one car that I realllly liked, but ended up being outside the price range I had decided to stay within. It was good to have someone to bounce stuff off of, and to let the salesman hear the conversation establishing that it was higher than I was going to go.

I like the buddy idea too. For car buying I take a friend of mine’s advice who used to be a car salesman. I know what car on the lot I want (basic model etc) and how much I should pay for it. I walk in and the first salesman to come up to me, I tell them ‘Look. I’ll give you $1500 above the sticker. I’ll sign the paperwork right now and we can be done in 20 minutes.’ If they don’t bite, I walk out the door. That’s the important part. You have all the power when you can walk away. Also, if you want a good deal, go to the dealership in a snowstorm near the end of the month. A friend got $5k off her car because they just wanted the sale and no one else was going to be coming in that day.

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I’ve been the shopping buddy for others quite a few times. I helped several friends pick out computers that would work for them without breaking the bank, I’ve gone shopping with women friends, etc.

But I’ve never had anyone be my shopping buddy. Partly because I’m weird and go shopping for stuff others have had no interest in, and mostly because there was nobody around.

And this is why shopping online and QVC, and kickstarter work so well.

Who is there to stop you when you find that Moira shaped back scratcher and pancake turner with Jim Henson’s second cousin’s signature on it?

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My brother is a mechanic. My preferred method is to bring him to a car I want to buy. Then I do whatever he says, to include not buying it.

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