“I have made the tough decisions, always with an eye toward the bottom line. Perhaps it’s time America was run like a business.” ~Donald Trump
I have been tossing around the idea of this post for over a year now. “Take The Money Out” is more than a blog post. It’s a philosophy. Thus, it’s taking me a while to get everything down and why this post hast to be broken into two parts.
I believe that if the world made its decisions based on something else besides money, it would be a better place. I’m not going to change the world, though. I understand that now. But I can make my world better and by setting an example, maybe I can help you make yours better too.
I find that the decisions I make in life that are not based on money are the best ones I have made so far. I still find it hard, though. I mean, $3 dollar avocados? Forget it!
You ever hear the saying, if you have to ask how much it is you probably can’t afford it. I’m not absolutely sure if this is true. I might say that if you have to ask how much, you probably don’t want it, need it, or love it enough. When someone’s child needs a surgery, the parent doesn’t ask how much it’s going to cost. When the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, who is going to ask the only mechanic for hundreds of miles, how much? When your very best friend is getting married at some far off destination, you say you’ll be there. Yes, there is a time to ask how much in each of these scenarios but it doesn’t come into play in the decision-making process. The decision is made long before the question of how much is ever asked.
This is how I want to approach life. Taking the money out of a decision and basing it instead on how important something is to me. So far, I have the decisions broken up into three categories: Purchases, Work, and Business.
Before I even start here, I have to say that you have to be able to afford it! Period! To say, take the money out of your decision making is a fine and dandy theory that you may or not believe but I want to make it clear that I am not saying it is ok to go into debt. How do you know if you can afford it? Easy, you have the cash in your pocket or bank account AND it’s in your budget. That’s it! I don’t have time to get into a debate about your stupid credit score.
When I was a real estate agent my goal was to find a win-win for both the seller and the buyer. It was a tough situation to be in because, regardless of my fiduciary responsibility, I care about people. I wanted the buyer to make a profit but not at the cost of screwing over the buyer. I also wanted the buyer to get a good deal on the house, but not at the expense of the seller. This was a tough profession because it was all about money especially with other agents, they were fucking animals.
When I say take the money out of the decisions of purchases it’s two-fold. Don’t make your purchase because it’s cheap and don’t avoid it because it’s expensive. You have to find that sweet spot, the win-win.
Do you know how many things I have taken back to Goodwill with the price tag still on it? I basically rented crap so it could take up space and so I could lug it around with me as I traveled. Although it can be tough, I have learned to not buy things because they are cheap. Do I need it Do I love it? Is it useful? These are the reasons I try to base by decision on whether to buy or not. Not because it’s cheap.
Now, if I need it, love it and it is going to be useful, does it matter how much it cost? With winter coming I am in the market for a minimalist boot. I have been looking for about two years now and haven’t found anything. Let’s say, I came across a pair, they were waterproof yet breathed, the had no heal, a big open toe box, and more importantly than anything else, they fit me. Everything I have been looking for the past couple years is there, right in front of me. The problem is they are expensive. If I based my decision on the cost, I would pass on them. I would pass on something that took me two years find, something that I needed and would use daily though several winters to come. That would be dumb. Don’t cheat yourself. If you have the cash and it’s in your budget, get it!
Not too long ago I had a plumbing issue with one if my rentals. I hemmed and hawed for hours about what I should do. My guys could do the job but they were two hours away and couldn’t pull the permits. Not having the permits would have made trouble when it came time to sell. I couldn’t stand the thought of paying a company to do a job my guys could have done for a quarter of the cost. So, I was going back and forth. Trying to decide if it was worth the money or not No, it was not a life or death situation but it weighed heavy on me. Meanwhile, the water heater was flooding the basement of my rental. I finally remembered my own theory, take the money out, dummy.
I called the plumber told him to go ahead with the job. It was an instant relief. The tenant was going to have a new water heater in a matter of hours. My guys wouldn’t have to stop working on jobs that actually paid money. And, I no longer had the stress of keeping either of them happy nor did I have to be concerned about the rental. It was no longer in my hands. It was being taken care of by the people I decided to pay to take care of it.
The decision I made was not based on what was cheapest. It was based on what was best. I didn’t call around looking for the cheapest in town. I knew these guys would get it done and get it done right. This is important! Because I own a business that often gets turned down because we did not have the lowest bid. I can tell you that this is a mistake. Not because I own the business but because I have seen what happens on both ends, to the customer and the company.
Here’s and example for each:
A homeowner accepts a bid because it is the lowest. The two-bit company is a guy who hires a couple of guys when he needs help and pays them cash so no one has to let the government know about it. It takes him a while to get the job started because has been accepted for another job that pays more. Getting their job done first is a priority because of the money. When he does finally get to the work, he does a subpar job on shower install or drywall or whatever he was hired for. The homeowner then has to call one of the more expensive contractors they had gotten a bid from and pays them to either do the original job or fix what that guy messed up but probably both. The homeowner pays more for the job than if they had just hired the more expensive contractor in the first place.
The business owner is happy to get the job and runs the numbers. After payroll, workman’s comp, health care, liability insurance, gas, and everything else, he realizes that, if he is lucky, he will break even on this job. He is frustrated and doesn’t know what to do. His guys deserve raises. They deserve a bonus. They deserve lunch on the boss. But he can’t provide any of that. His company is the equivalent of a family that lives paycheck to paycheck. All because he has to put in super low bids to be sure he can get the work.
If there is anything wrong with this country, I would say this is it. That people are being run into the ground so that others can make or save a buck. People complain about Walmart and their crappy pay and benefits but to they understand why Walmart has crappy pay and benefits. It’s because they sell shit so cheap and you know who is buying this shit? The very people who are complaining about it.
When people buy something simply because of its low price, there is an enormous negative chain reaction that affects the entire world.
I could go on…