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Perceived Value

  • By: Jessica Wilkerson
  • Published: February 1, 2021

A close friend recently passed away. He and I had been friends for twenty-three years. He knows where I work and what I do for a living. Over the years, we had multiple conversations about his lack of estate planning. He was a single father with a home, no mortgage, some money in the bank and various other assets. Unbeknownst to me, before he died, he completed a will and a few other basic documents at an online document drafting website. While these services and documents may work for some, estate planning it is not a one-size-fits-all exercise. Everyone’s situations and family dynamics are very different.

Shortly, after he died his mother asked me to “take a look at his stuff.” I am not a lawyer but even I could tell it’s a mess. He created a simple will that leaves everything to his minor daughter, in trust, with literally no administration or distribution provisions for the trust. There is no language regarding how, or when, or how much, she can get and there are no provisions for what happens on the daughter’s death. Yikes!

In addition, he had recently gotten married, but his wife is not named anywhere in any of his documents. His mother is the only person named to take care of everything. I advised them to come to the office for a meeting and get some direction and help sorting things out, but both the wife and mother scoffed and said “it’s not necessary to spend that kind of money.” They will find out shortly that they actually will need some help; like when they try to sell his house, his vehicle or access his investment accounts.

A short while later, I came across the following story on Facebook. I don’t know who wrote it but it definitely struck a chord with me. The story is a great example of why we hire professionals to do certain things for us rather than trying to do everything ourselves.


A customer asked a contractor friend of mine how much it would cost to do this project.
My friend gave him a proposal: $4,500

The customer responded, “That seems really high.”

My friend asked, “What do you think is a reasonable price for this job?”

The customer answered, “$2,500, maximum.”

My friend responded, “Okay, then, I invite you to do it yourself.”

The customer answered, “I don’t know how to.”

My friend responded, “Alright then, how about for $2,500, I’ll teach you how. So, besides saving you $2,000, you’ll learn valuable skills that will benefit you in the future.”

The customer answered, “Sounds good! Let’s do it!”

My friend responded, “Great! To get started, you are going to need some tools. You will need a chop saw, table saw, cordless drill, bit set, router, skill saw, jig saw, tool belt, and hammer.”

The customer answered, “But I don’t have any of those tools and I can’t justify buying all of these for one job.”

My friend responded, “Okay, well then, for an additional $300, I can rent my tools to you to use for this project.”

The customer answered, “Okay, that’s fair.”

My friend responded, “Great! We will start the project on Monday.”

The customer answered, “I work Monday through Friday. I’m only available on the weekends.”

My friend responded, “If you want to learn from me then you will need to work when I work. This project will take three days so you will need to take three days off of work.”

The customer answered, “That means I’m going to have to sacrifice my pay for three days or use my vacation time!”

My friend responded, “That’s true. Remember, when you do a job yourself you need to account for unproductive factors.”

The customer answered, “What do you mean by that?”

My friend responded, “Doing a job completely from start to finish includes time spent to plan the project, pick up materials, travel time, gas, set-up time, clean up, and waste disposal among other things. That’s in addition to the actual project itself. And speaking of materials, that’s where we will start on Monday so I need you to meet me at the lumberyard at 6:00 am.”

The customer answered, “At 6:00 am?! My work day doesn’t usually start until 8:00 am!”

My friend responded, “Well then, you’re in luck! My plan is to start on the deck build by 8:00 am. But to do so we have to start at 6:00 am to get materials picked up, loaded and delivered to your job site.”

The customer answered, “You know, I’m realizing that a lot more goes into a job than what a customer sees in the finished project. Your proposal of $4,500 is very reasonable. I would like you to handle the project.”

When you pay for a job, especially a custom job, (whether it’s a physical project or digital project) you pay not only for the material and the work to be completed. You also pay for:
✔️ Knowledge
✔️ Experience
✔️ Custom Skills
✔️ Tools
✔️ Time to plan
✔️ Time to prepare
✔️ Professionalism
✔️ Work Ethic
✔️ Excellence
✔️ Discipline
✔️ Commitment
✔️ Integrity
✔️ Taxes
✔️ Licenses
✔️ Sacrifices
✔️ Liabilities
✔️ Insurance

If you request a proposal for custom work to be done, please don’t disrespect a service provider by trying to get them to lower their prices. If their proposal exceeds your budget, there’s nothing wrong with getting other proposals. Just remember, you get what you pay for.

Jessica Wilkerson