A Catch Up!

Whoops! Not even one post in May when I try to blog every other week? My bad!

To spring off of the last post way back on April 30th- we DID finalize the refinance and complete some of the projects I’d mentioned!

Taking up an entire weekend was the project of completely revamping the children’s rooms and getting all new beds, mattresses, and bedding for them. First step was to completely remove everything from both rooms. Children have LOTS of stuff, turns out.

We stripped the rooms back to bare walls and floors. The rest of our house suffered that week, let me tell you.

We cleaned, purged, rearranged, and then built 3 new beds. This project took about 18 hours for each room. It was great though because for the youngest two we had them sleep in their room with just the beds and dressers the first night and they loved how it felt (who doesn’t sleep better in an impeccably clean room, amiright?) that they then purged WAY more than they had originally intended.

The older two kids got full sized beds with trundles and the youngest got a fancier (a house frame looking surround thing) bed with under bed storage. The fancier bed is to distract from the fact that her “section” of the shared room is now much smaller so the flow of that room is improved. This worked like a charm, fyi. I bought all the beds off of Overstock and I’m really happy with the quality.

It’s not Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs but it’s close. That damned bear takes up too many square feet of my house.

The next project was getting our pier and beam house leveled. And look- it IS leveled! All the piers were replaced and even some new ones added! They had to tunnel under our house to ensure they could access everything and the job took 3 days instead of 1 and they only charged us $500 more than the estimate! They found a broken pipe leading from my washing machine so all the water had been draining UNDER MY HOUSE and they fixed it. We should be happy right? That’s a big nope.

What went wrong? Well first off… the house is leveled and more stable- but we have a bit of a high spot in the living room and that’s annoying. As the dirt dries out (it was muddy under there due to the broken pipe from the washing machine) it will lower so the contractor raised the house a little higher to adjust for this. So the living room high spot may lower- hopefully. Then there is the fact that the pier by the back door had actually toppled- so that spot had to be jacked WAY up… which cracked our brick in our laundry room/hallway thing. (Brick can be seen in the picture above- it was the original back patio to the house before it was remodeled.) They are not big cracks. They may pull back once the soil level shrinks and be nearly invisible. It’s actually pretty common for impervious surfaces to crack when getting a house leveled so it isn’t totally unexpected. But dang it why’d it have to be the brick and not the tile in the bathroom we don’t much care for?!

And all that soil they took out from under our house to dig tunnels… they just dumped it at the back of our property?! What. The. Fuck. We can’t garden on that cruddy soil- that is not okay! They did this without asking and then left without a final walkthrough so I hadn’t even really noticed it… like damn. They are SUPPOSED to be coming back to pick it up next week as my husband called to address that and all the holes punched in our skirting… we’ll see if it happens. Also they punched numerous holes in our skirting.

They also trimmed our trees?! That isn’t a typo. This contractor was so weird you guys. Like thank you for doing us that favor, but also maybe ask next time? The assumptions from this guy… seriously. He asked my husband what he did (he’s a teacher) and then never asked me what I did. He kept telling me things like “I know you don’t have a lot of money, so I won’t charge you for all the extra piers we installed.” This type of comment happened numerous times. Which- I’ll take the discounts but what a WEIRD thing to say to a client? Especially since I didn’t ever, not once, mention our finances when negotiating or anything? (I would NEVER- how gauche.) Every time he said it I just bit my tongue and I said that I appreciated it. Who am I to talk him out of giving us a discount, regardless of the reason, you know?

And then he told me my house smelled like dog? (Yeah hi- the dogs both do need baths and they’ve been inside and stressed out for THREE DAYS now because y’all have been outside working but also fuck you?) And then as he left on the last day he told me I should get this bleach spray stuff and clean the outside of my house because it really needed it. (DUDE I DID THAT IN APRIL AND BLOGGED ABOUT IT, SHUT UUUUP ALREADY!)

And then I figured it out.

He thought I was the world’s shittiest housewife and that my husband, as a teacher, was the only income we had and that’s why he kept talking about what he thought the state of our finances were. (And honestly- my husband’s district pays well but I bet this guy didn’t know that.) It all makes sense- the comments about financing, the jabs about how dirty and smelly my house was… all of it. And I guess he just thought I was on my laptop all day (he was in and out constantly to check the levels) watching Netflix or playing around? When in fact I work FULL FUCKING TIME remotely and I do NOT clean or fold laundry in the hours I work. And our house looked TRASHED because they started leveling the house the day after we finished redoing the girls rooms and he was making some serious judgements how trashed most of our house was and about me as a person and housekeeper. What a sexist, moronic, jackass!

And look, I do in fact think we got a good deal on the house leveling and I do think that part was well done (I checked their work before the skirting was put on) and we got more done than we even asked for like the plumbing repair and goddamn tree trimming for some reason? but I would so SO never use this guy again. Not ever ever ever. Ever. Ever ever ever.


And then the next annoying thing- buying a vehicle!

So my oldest turns 16 this year and will be getting the Toyota 4Runner we bought when she was a baby. It has something like 325,000 miles on it and has been an absolute workhorse for us for the past 16 years. Because it has been such an awesome vehicle my husband is sticking with Toyotas and really wants a truck. Due to Toyotas’ resale value and the absolute run on used vehicles lately it makes sense to go with a new vehicle (seriously- a 2020 Tacoma is only about 4-5% less than a brand new 2022 these days- it’s crazy.)

But holy hell the car dealers. I actually really love being “bad cop” in car negotiating. (I do this for myself and did this for my brother when he bought a car too. It’s like… a favorite thing.) Being a good salesman myself I enjoy being able to call bad ones out and their obvious techniques and scripted comments. I also love being able to call a sales manager out on their bullshit too in front of the salesman who called them over. It’s delicious is what it is

But we kept running up against trucks that were 8-10K over MSRP because of all these stupid and overpriced upgrade packages… and that is well outside of what we wanted to spend. And they all the dealerships were saying the same thing: that they can’t negotiate on those charges, those came to us from the distributor! After hearing this a few times I started to go like this:

Because while all the dealers sucked and were taking advantage of the situation- their comments made it VERY clear that car dealers do not buy their vehicles directly from Toyota. If it actually goes Toyota: Distributor: Dealer in the chain of command then maybe the other distributors would be better?

I asked the final car salesman of the day at the worst dealer of all (Don’t buy from Universal Toyota in San Antonio) what the name of their distributor was. She was perplexed but told me it was Gulf States Toyota. Thanks for the info, sucker!

Armed with that name I was able to do a deep dive on the world of car distributors (a total layer that is intentionally murky to end consumers) and found this:

Map of US Toyota distributors and their coverage. Bam!

Not surprisingly the only private ones (Gulf States and Southeast) are the absolute worst for their ubiquitous and unnecessary packages. The ones that are the best for NOT doing that are the ones that cover the Chicago and New York regions.

And so that’s how we ended up buying a truck in Chicago.

This cost us $4,500 less then the cheapest quote for an equivalent vehicle in Texas. (I ran the math: it’s $234 in gas and 20 hours. I have airline and hotel points. This is not insane, I promise) And the car buying experience was way different too: I asked for a quote, they sent it with two line items for packages we didn’t need that had asterisks that made clear in the fine print that they were not a requirement to buy, I asked for those to be removed and the quote resent and it was. I swear it would be worth it to do this all even if the cost was the same just so we didn’t have to buy a vehicle from any of those TERRIBLE dealers and their stupid distributor, Gulf States, in Texas.

So screw Gulf States and Texas car dealers who told us we didn’t have other options!

I have more but I’ll save it for next week as this is already pretty long of a post.

Till next time!