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A $20 Bill Can Be Magical

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I have a hundred moving stories bouncing around in my head, but I want to start with the magic of a $20 bill.  I found out the true power of $20 last week.

Tree Saga

I mentioned a while ago that our builder was going to provide me with two front yard trees, but one of them was going to be a live red oak.  I like live red oaks, but not anywhere near my driveway or foundation.  So we came to a compromise.  They gave me a dead oak tree in the front yard along with the Japanese Magnolia I wanted until closing and then promised to provide me with a live red oak towards the back part of my back yard after we officially closed.  That way they would meet their two tree requirement with the home owner’s association and I would get the positioning of my choosing.

Well, this plan would leave me with a big hole in my front yard that would need a tree.  I wanted a crape myrtle since they don’t die on me.  When I called the guy I ended up using for back yard sodding and asked about his crape myrtle prices, he quoted $250 for a 30 gallon that they would plant for me or $165 for a 15 gallon.  I didn’t want to pay that much since crape myrtles are generally a super cheap tree.  So I asked how much for a 15 gallon that they would deliver, but that I would plant.  He quoted $65.  Literally $100 less just because of labor.  I thought $65 for a 15 gallon crape myrtle delivered to my front door sounded great, so I signed up.

A few days later, my sodding and his planting crew arrived.  They started hauling butt with my back yard…I mean, they really moved fast!  They also dropped off a cute 15 gallon crape myrtle right next to the dead tree in my front yard.  Then I had my light bulb moment.

Magical $20

I walked to the back yard and asked the sodding crew if they would mind planting the crape myrtle for $20 as I held it out in my hand.  The head guy accepted the $20, said “no problem”, and two of his guys took 15 minutes to pull out the dead tree and plant my new one.  They even added extra mulch to make up for the bigger root ball of the previous tree.  Best $20 I spent this year.

I know it would have taken me at least an hour if not more to do the same job and I would still have a dead tree body to deal with.  This was no muss, no fuss and my front yard was ready to go.  I can’t believe the sodding guy was trying to get $100 when the little crew seemed super satisfied with $20.  Well, I can, but I am so glad I didn’t fall for it.

So I guess the moral of this story is to look at all of your options.  Sometimes something as simple as a $20 bill or a plate of cookies can make a problem go away.  And most of the time, your time and stress levels are worth way more than that $20…

Have you had any experiences like this?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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11 thoughts on “A $20 Bill Can Be Magical

  1. Money talks! You have to realize that most of the time the fee never actually goes to the employees. They know what they make and how much the company charges. So of course $20 straight in there pocket for maybe 10 mins of work.

    My car broke down on me a few years ago and I called a auto shop. The price they gave me was just crazy. I spoke with one of the techs there and he told me he could get the parts at a 30% discount and with labor doing it on his own time I saved about $450. He’s been my mechanic ever since.

  2. After my cousin passed away and I sold her house I donated a lot of her furniture to a local charity that then passes the furniture on to people who need it (like women getting out of abusive relationships, etc.). However, there was one big, heavy antique cedar chest I wanted to keep as it was a family heirloom and quite unique… but we weren’t sure how we would get the piece moved downstairs and into the truck without killing ourselves! That piece was big and heavy! When the charity guys were at the house to pick up the furniture I was giving them I offered them $20 if they would carry the cedar chest downstairs for me and they happily agreed. It was the best $20 I have spent!

  3. Last year when we bought a house we decided to buy a new couch. We wanted our old couch moved downstairs but the furniture company told us their movers absolutely could not and would not move existing furniture. So we figured we’d just move it in a few weeks when my father in law came back to visit. But my mom was the one who was waiting for the delivery and she paid the delivery men $20 to move the couch. They had no problem with moving it!

  4. Big lesson #2 – You will never know unless you ask. My hubby reminds me of this on a regular basis, I get uncomfortable asking sometimes for no good reason (another irrational girl trait I tell Derek) Do not tell Derek but he is right on this one! If you never ask the answer is guaranteed to be NO, because I denied them the chance to say yes!!

  5. We were getting new countertops in our office a few years ago. We wanted to reuse the old sink. I realized at the last minute that the sink needed three holes to fit the new faucet, but only had 2. The countertop people had all kinds of saws and tools so I asked if they could cut another hole. The guy said sure but not his fault if something went wrong. It took him 5 seconds and it worked perfect. He didn’t even charge me. It would have been at least $100 to get a new sink. Always ask. All they can say is no.

  6. Well played 🙂 The only thing I can think of at the moment is a beer to the guys who were painting my house in university. When we came back in the fall there was egg on the second floor window. These guys were up there painting, with ladders. One beer 🙂

  7. I often make a similar choice when it comes to DIY projects. I am better at finding good inexpensive trades people than I am doing the work myself. The money is better spent because in the long run, it is cheaper.

  8. @Thomas, I love it when you can find a good mechanic!

    @Denise, yay!

    @Madison, totally a magical $20. 🙂

    @Mandy, so true!

    @Kim, I really appreciate nice people who will at least try…saves me a ton of time and money. Yay for the sink!

    @Anne, LOL.

    @Hunter, I went with Red Dynamites but have heard good things about the Natchez’s. Sorry you had to plant them yourself, but I hope they end up being gorgeous for your effort!

    @Savvy Scot, thanks. 🙂

    @Krantcents, I appreciate hiring people to do what they are good at – lets me do what I am good at…plus, I’m lazy, I’ll admit it…

    @Jenna, 🙂

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