Iíll have to admit one thing that high gas prices have done for me. Theyíve gotten my attention. Mostly Iím a business owner with my nose so close to the grindstone that getting my attention is not always the easiest thing to do. But $4 gas at the pump has my full focus.
Itís not that I canít pay $4 a gallon for gas . . . I can. I just canít eat if I do. Or more specifically, I just canít justify eating out. Daily lunch at my favorite restaurant added up to more than what I have to spend for gas. Add in a couple of sodas, a candy bar in the afternoon and a latte in the morning. Apparently, my vehicle isnít the only money-guzzling thing in my life.
I started brown-bagging it until I added up how much brown bags cost and now Iím carrying my sonís Mickey Mouse lunch box. People look at that lunch box with admiration, instead of wondering about my maturity level. Thatís what $4 a gallon gas will do for you.
Adding Up in a Hurry
Iíve even started equating things to gas. Do I really need those shoes? Heck no, those shoes are a half a tank of gas! I found myself looking at finance charges on a credit card statement: $3.88 = one gallon of gas. Look at that, Iím paying one gallon of gas! Iíve even progressed to equating money to mileage. I could go 20 miles on that finance charge . . . Iíve got to pay that off!
Gallons of gas are everywhere I look. I found several of them on my cable bill. Apparently I was being charged for seven television receivers. We donít have seven televisions. I never would have discovered that without my gas impetus making me call the cable company for a real, live person to interpret my unintelligible cable bill.
Iíve given a thorough exam to the phone bill, the credit card processing company bill, the insurance bill, yellow pages advertising, vendor invoices, electric bill, water bill, sewer bill, you name it. Iíve looked at it. Iíve been surprised what I found. Little things I could do without or was being overcharged for added up in a hurry.
I even called my banker. ďHow much money could I save in interest if I paid extra on my building payment?Ē Iíve found and recouped enough wasted funds to transfer over to my building payment and pay off the building in two-and-a-half years. Iíll make almost $6,000 in savings in interest on that one note alone. Thatís a lot of gas. I even discovered I could borrow against a CD at 5 1/4 percent interest instead of paying 11 1/2 percent on an operating loan. I saved over a tank-and-a-half of gas on that one monthly payment.
As it has turned out, my bank has been a treasure trove of gas. ďAnd how much do you charge per transaction for online banking?Ē I asked. ďZip, nada, zeroĒ was the answer. Then why in the world are we paying for checks, paying to print checks, paying someone to stuff checks in envelopes, and then paying that same person to lick a 43-cent stamp on a wad of bills that go out every week? It seems we are spending upwards of $75 per month in postage alone. Wow, another tank of gas.
Nothing is escaping my thorough examination, including the dumpsters. We can recycle more and cut back by one dumpster. Bingo, another tank of gas.
My employees are now allowed to work 10 hours a day four days a week instead of five. More tanks of gas. Weíre carpooling, batching errands, and generally paying more attention.
Weíre making a concerted effort to close sales on the first customer visit so we donít have to spend the gas to go back. Weíre working smarter, marketing smarter, selling smarter and living smarter. Weíre turning off lights, turning up thermostats, cleaning out filters, maintaining air pressure in our tires, and figuring out whatís important and what we can easily do without.
So, from all indications, $4-a-gallon gas is cheaper without all the money leakage than $2.50-a-gallon gas was with it. If I keep this up, I might even ditch the lunch box.
Mary Ann Plumlee is the owner of a retail and wholesale workroom. Starting with only $50 and a home sewing machine in 1985, her business has expanded to include a showroom, 12 employees and two locations. She firmly believes that in this business only the tough survive. Finding the humor in the everyday life of a ďcurtainladyĒ is how she not only has survived, but thrived in this industry. Plumlee is often seen traveling around the country teaching classes and seminars. She is the author of The Adventures of Curtain Lady and has launched a workroom related blog: www.workroomintelligence.com.