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Jewish World Review August 18, 2000 /17 Menachem-Av, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Consumer Reports


Don't make huge down payments


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- DEAR BRUCE: We needed some expansion work done to our home due to our increased family size. We went to a "reputable contractor" in the area who had done work for some neighbors. We were quoted a figure of $12,000, so we gave them $6,000 down for purchasing the materials. He did a little bit of work, and now he just doesn't show up. He has more excuses than a teenager explaining to her father why she is late coming home from a date. The fact is that we have our money tied up, our house is really ugly and this guy just keeps telling us tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. What do we do? -- R.D., Hamden, Conn.

DEAR R.D.: These guys are always "reputable" until they do something wrong. Your first mistake was the huge down payment. If a contractor can't afford to buy the materials out of his own pocket, then you don't want him working for you. There is very little that you can do except to keep hounding this guy.

If you wish, put him on notice that unless he comes back within five working days and completes his job, you will give it to someone else and look to him for whatever extra payment is required. The problem is this guys has your money, and there's a very good chance that even if you went to court, he wouldn't have enough to pay you back. I underscore: Don't give this kind of deposit to anybody!

DEAR BRUCE: We had a wonderful trip to the Far East. We visited Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul. In Singapore we found some wonderful carvings. We paid the vendor in full, and he assured us that the packages would be home before we were. That was three months ago. We have called the number on his business card; it's disconnected. Is there any way we can get him to ship our stuff? There is over $3,000 involved. -- N.C., Tulsa, Okla.

DEAR N.C.: I'm afraid that you will find this guy is out of business. You should write to the trade consulate for Singapore in Washington, D.C., and ask if they can intervene for you. The strong likelihood is that this rascal is nowhere to be found. When purchasing things overseas for shipping, you are far better advised to take possession and you make the arrangements to have them shipped. That way you know they are on their way and you are not being victimized.

DEAR BRUCE: Our third "crumb snatcher" is now 4-1/2 years old, and the other kids assure me that he is old enough to go to Walt Disney World on a vacation. I know that you have broadcast from there several times. Can you give me any tips on where the best buys are and how to approach this trip so that we leave with our sanity and not broke? -- F.R., Louisville, Ky.

DEAR F.R.: Going to Disney World is obviously a very pleasant experience, but it is one that can be very tiring and expensive. The admission to the park for a family of five is well over $200 a day. If you are staying on property, and I'd suggest that you should, there are a broad range of accommodations. Given the fact that you will be spending relatively little time in your room except to sleep and preparing to go to the parks, I'd suggest that you stay at one of the more modestly priced facilities. One of my favorites is Dixie Landings.

At any of the hotels, you have use of the Disney transportation system to take you from place to place. Try to get up early in the morning when the day is cooler, take a break in the middle of the afternoon for a swim with the kids and then go back in afternoon when things have cooled off.

Your best break is on a rainy day. Yes, I know it seems contradictory, but there are so many less people in line. You can breeze right through on a rainy day.

Further, they now have a new system called Fast Pass. You decide the time that you would like to go on the ride. You are then given a ticket to that ride for a window of time. This allows you to go and do other things instead of having to spend all of your time waiting in line. When your window of time comes, you simply go back to the ride and get right on.

Don't plan to do too much on any given day. You can "o.d." on this sort of thing and are going to find that the kids will probably have more stamina than you.

Have a great trip.



Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).

Up

08/16/00: IRAs for people with pensions
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04/10/00: Married couples should share windfall
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03/29/00: Pre-tax dollars in IRA taxed later
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03/22/00: Old cars as hobby, not investment
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03/16/00: How to buy government bonds
03/13/00: Buying treasury instruments
03/09/00: Subcontractors must pay S.S.
03/08/00: Real-estate lawyers are essential
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03/06/00: Too rich for a Roth IRA?
03/01/00: Is time-sharing a scam?
02/29/00: Paying for nursing-home care
02/28/00: Rely on a real-estate lawyer
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01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
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10/11/99: If it ain't broke...
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09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
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09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
09/03/99: How can I work out my IRS payments?
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08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
08/26/99: Landlords vary on security deposits
08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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