If you’ve been around here a while, you know Susan Cooper.. if not, let me spend a second introducing her. She’s an incredible person who is probably the reason I’m still blogging today. Back in the early days, we were the only ones commenting on each other’s sites, but luckily that has changed! She’s continued to support me and teach me new things about blogging. She’s a former executive, turned unofficial life coach who’s an incredible story teller, artist, and wine connoisseur! Check out her site, Finding Our Way Now – you won’t regret it.
Take it away, Susan!
October 1, 2012
Have you ever heard the proverb “Money doesn’t grow on trees”? I would argue that point. But I digress. Our feeling or sense of how we treat money can be affected by so many factors but before I tell you my tale, let me define how I see Money.
To me, Money is a sophisticated system of bartering. Our time and energy in a job is then translated into the form of a currency. We use that currency to exchange our time and energy for goods or services that we need, want or desire. So what that means is when we buy something, we’re saying that the time it took to earn the currency we are parting with is worth the item we’re purchasing. For example, lets say it takes us a month to earn $1.000, and we want to purchase a TV. When we buy that TV, we’re saying the value of that TV is worth a month of our work.
So now back to “Money doesn’t grow on trees”? It does if you’re an apple grower. This quote is really a proverb that refers to: “don’t waste money because it’s hard to get”. For me what the idiom or proverb is really saying is we only have so much time (The Tree) to work. Making the best use of our time and how it translates in to a currency (The Leaves) to barter with is extraordinarily valuable to us.
So where am I going with this? About 6 months ago I made a decision to reduce our household expenses. Because I was no longer working, it just made good sense to do so. My goal was simple, cut costs by at least 15% without substantially changing the overall convenience that some things offered. I had already reduced our costs by some, the low hanging fruit if you will. So this was a real effort to see the other areas that could be changed. I know what you’re thinking, how in the heck are you going to that.
You see, when we view money as a bartering system then everything is negotiable. I researched all my services, the going rate for each service, who provided them and what their reputation was as a service provider. I made a lot of phone calls. Some areas weren’t adjustable such as power and water. However, many other areas were such as cable, internet service, cell phone, and the list went on. You get the idea.
In other cases, it was substantially more. Let me give just one example. I had a gardener who was top dollar, and I asked what he could provide if we reduced our cost to half of his current fee. He gasped and acted as if the world would end, and my yard would look as if an apocalypse had
arrived. We went back and forth. In the end, I decided to change to another gardener who I knew by reputation and from the neighborhood. I not only got the same service at half the price, but he was actually better and more attentive to my needs.I then checked for any specials that were being offered that I was not getting. In some cases, I was willing to change my provider all together if I saw not appreciable difference in the service they provided by doing so. With some services, it reduced the cost by only a few dollars, but hey a dollar is a dollar in the bartering world, and it all adds up.
I systematically went through each and every item, reducing just about everything to a lower cost. The overall outcome was I succeeded in reducing our household operating expenses by a whopping 25+%. Why I hadn’t done it before was disappointing, but at least I got there. The best part, it’s been over 6 months since I’ve made these changes and we haven’t seen or miss the differences in any way. In some situations, I am actually getting better service at a much-reduced price. What’s there not to like about that.
Money is a tool that represents our time and energy. When we part with it, we need to make sure that the time and energy it took to acquire it matches with the product or service we’re purchasing.