Read The Fine Print – Lessons 1-3

Read The Fine Print #1:   — All Wheel Drive Cars

Subarus are known for pioneering all wheel drive technology.  However, Audi may have predated them and have an equally powerful AWD system.  There are even Honda SVUs with all wheel drive.  This technology is meant to give you more grip on the road and may be slightly better in challenging conditions.  I know that I certainly appreciate this feature in my Subaru.  However — if you have an all wheel drive car — you need to keep up with TIRE MAINTENANCE.  Overall, if you keep your car for a long time your total cost of tires  will very likely be more than a 2WD vehicle.   Unless it’s soon after a set of new tires, an unrepairable flat in one tire will require you to REPLACE ALL 4 TIRES.   I got kind of upset when a family member got 4 tires replaced on her Subaru and the shop did not offer a warranty.  It was precisely for this reason.  If one tire goes bad, they all have to be replaced.  A “free tire” somewhere can always be manipulated and the other 3 tires can be jacked up in price.  This dealer actually was legit. Furthermore, Tire rotation is extremely important.   If it’s $5 or $10 extra or whatever reasonable cost to get the tires rotated with each oil change — do it.  Do not decline it.  I’ve fallen victim to my own high tech / brand loyalty beliefs of having my oil changes done with a brand of oil that I select (either Mobil 1 or Royal Purple).  It may all be smoke and mirrors because the dealer uses synthetic anyway.  I was not having rotations done with my oil changes.  I should have been going back every 5,000 miles to my tire dealer, which did offer me free rotations. I did not.  Consequently, my front wheel bearings wore out.  I need them replaced along with a new set of tires, though I have gotten almost 3 years and a significant # of miles out of my current tires.  Lessons learned.

Read The Fine Print #2:  Home Solar

Solar powered homes are only going to increase. There may be environmental reasons or financial reasons such as divorcing from the electric company or both.  The sales force for one of the big players was aggressively canvassing my neighborhood today.  I don’t plan on signing up in the near future, but I have studied the consumer aspect of  residential solar A LOT over the past several years (and I will admit I do not know as much about the environmental benefit).  Solar may or may not be a good choice for you.   There are good companies out there and bad ones.  Three of the biggest that come to mind around here are Tesla, Sunrun, and Trinity.  I am definitely not endorsing any of them.  All claims have to be scrutinized.  These are the questions I would be asking:

-When the rep comes to your house and you get an offer — do not sign it on day one.  Say you want to look at it and you will contact them again.  If they demand agreement on that day — see ya, goodbye!   As a friendly advisor (not legal advice) I would be willing to look at any deal you are presented with.  ( If you need an attorney’s input, I know one that specializes in consumer law. )

– Your solar sales rep should be asking for the last 12 months of your electric bills to gauge your average usage.   If they don’t care enough about you to know this much detail  — show them the door  C-ya.

– Be very leery of claims that you are getting this system FOR FREE.  That seems hyped up to me and an embellishment.  There are a lot of adverts going around on social media — personalized for your state and town (private eyes, they’re watching you….) telling you about some great free solar system.  However, let’s say the system itself is a proper one and you can get your electricity bill down to zero. There is still likely going to be a loan or lease payment for the solar system unless you are buying it outright.  As I described it to someone recently, so you save $300 on your electric bill and pay $300  a month for the solar system.  It’s in one hand and out of the other. 

– Tax credit: These solar companies like to tempt you with a big tax credit.  There is currently a 30% federal tax credit on these systems with the average cost of the system being $21,000.  This means a tax credit of about $6100.  Please run any potential credit you are told about by your CPA.  You need to be paying at least $6000 in taxes over the next 5 years to be taking advantage of this credit.  (It can be spread over those 5 years.)   If your solar system is leased or part of a PPA you do not get the credit.  

– Servicing:  Will the installer provide service after the sale?  If they go out of business are there independent companies that can provide servicing?

– Energy storage:  What happens on cloudy days?  What happens when your panels are covered with snow?  The good news is that the panels are often installed at an angle.  Furthermore, you can purchase a battery system for storage to go along with your panels but this could easily add 10k to the cost.  These are just things to keep in mind and questions you should be asking. 

Read the Fine Print #3 — Cell Phone Deals

I won’t make this too long and I would be happy to review any deals that come your way.  Remember my long-standing offer.  I will help you remotely pick out and order your next smartphone and have it shipped to you at no charge for this pre-purchase consultation,  if you will pay me to set it up for you.  I do a much more thorough job than the stores with no gimmicks.    $800 off?  FREE phone?   Ask about those bill credits?  Are you on the latest plan to be able to take advantage of those deals?  More often than not, I just like to give my clients the straight skinny.  A premium smartphone these days is going to be an $800 to $1100 proposition (could be more come Fall 2023), but you can likely take advantage of interest free financing.