DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend of mine owns a painting company. I hired him and his workers to paint my home a new color. I signed a contract like any other customer, but when I asked for the invoice, he said to pay what I am comfortable with. He wouldn’t tell me what he usually charges, and I have never had something like this done before. I don’t want to underpay him, but I don’t want to overpay him either. What is the best way to approach paying him and his workers? -- A Grateful Friend
DEAR A GRATEFUL FRIEND: What an uncomfortable position to be in! Your friend thinks he is doing you a favor by telling you to pay what you can. Unfortunately, this is not as kind as he thinks because it requires you to do work that may not yield accurate results. You need to get your friend to understand how tough this situation is for you.
Thank your friend for being kind in not charging you his normal price. Tell him that since you have never hired a painter before and do not know what it should cost, you have no idea what to pay. Tell him that you will pay him when he is able to give you a price. Point out that his workers did a good job and deserve to be paid right away, but you have no idea what to pay them. Perhaps he can tell you his normal price and then offer you a percentage discount. Sometimes the “friends and family discount” can run from 20% to 50%. You can tell him you have found that out from your research. Perhaps he will be willing to share the regular price while recommending that you pay a discounted fee.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Thank you for the advice that you offered to “On the Edge,” who was concerned about their increased drinking. May I offer one additional piece of information for future reference? Alcoholics Anonymous (or any 12-step program) is NOT for everyone.
An alternative or supplemental resource (for some) is SMART Recovery, which utilizes the concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy to examine, analyze and alter the way in which we think and rationalize our thoughts. It's worth taking a look! I've seen SMART Recovery's meetings and methodologies help many, many people. You can visit SMARTRecovery.org for more information. -- Alternative Support
DEAR ALTERNATIVE SUPPORT: Thank you for sharing information about another program that can help people who are battling addiction. Indeed, there are a number of organizations that are dedicated to supporting people who have found themselves in the throes of addiction. I encourage people to get support however they can, because it is possible to be freed of addiction.
I will point out that traditional therapy is also an option. Many therapists are certified with specialization in treating people with addictions. Do your research to find the right fit for you.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)