December 1, 2008

Guard Your Cash

Buon giorno. I had been putting off writing this article until the first of the year, but I think people need to know now rather than later.

Now that Obummer and the other Socialists are going to be in charge in the USA, and economies are interconnected, perhaps what I have to say will affect readers outside these borders as well. Much of what I'm going to say is common sense, but sometimes things need to be summarized and repeated.

The economies are in bad shape, we all know. Our national "leaders" have points of view that will only make things worse. They will continue to create an entitlement (welfare) mentality, and will raise your taxes to do it. You believe that B. Hussein Obama will keep his promises to only raise taxes on the "rich"? Dream on. Or you want to see them pay more than they already do? You're dismissed. We don't need class warfare in this room, anyway.

I have no intention of giving you investment advice, however. This is simply what it takes to survive.
  • Times are tough, and they're going to get tougher. Start now and plan ahead.
  • Get out of debt, or lower as much of your debt burden as you can. Don't be foolish and only pay the minimums on your credit card debts, or you'll be there forever. And you don't want to have huge amounts of debt to pay off when they raise their interest rates. Those companies are always looking for an excuse to trick you, so they'll simply write a new rule and raise the rates.
  • Consider the underground economy. I'm not talking about the black market or downright illegal activities (that's some of my turf, anyway, so back off). Barter your way through things. What you need is the backyard mechanic that will fix your car because he owes you a favor anyway, or you can owe him one (be sure to pay it back!), or you may have other goods and services instead of money.
  • Pay cash. You can use this to gain a better rate. I know someone that needed limousine service and saved a couple of hundred dollars by paying cash. Hey, if some companies want to do business "off the books", that's up to them. Or the guy that will work on your computer if you give him cash or give him something else that he wants.
  • Do not buy things you do not need. I know you want that big-screen television, but put it off for a while. Maybe next year. If something you need has to be replaced, you'll probably have to do it. But not if it's going to be an expensive "upgrade". Not yet.
  • Back off from pressure. I have long believed that haste is Satan's favorite tool. "Do it now, or you'll lose the opportunity!" Sure, Buttercup. If I act now, I don't have time to think about it, figure my budget, find an alternative, see if I need it in the first place, and if you're a crook. Listen to that inner voice of caution.
  • Plan. That's the alternative to the pressure that I just mentioned. If you need or want something (Do I really need to tell you the differences between needs and wants?), look at your budget and plan for it. And learn about what you're wanting. Be an educated consumer. The more it costs, the more you should plan and think.
  • Don't be cheap. If you take the cheapest way out instead of paying for quality, you'll pay for the cheap stuff and pay to replace it with the good stuff. This is for things that matter. I don't care if you get salt and pepper shakers at the dollar store, capice?
  • Continue to give. It's a proven fact that Conservatives are more generous than Liberals, and charities will be hurting. I don't have time to go into the psychological and the spiritual aspects of giving, so I'll just say that we need to be here for others. Why? Because it's the right thing to do. Oh, you want something more practical. OK, try this: If you're not here for them, they won't be here for you. But I hope you're not that selfish.
I have some advice for businesses, too, in case they're willing to listen.
  • Make it up in volume. Don't be so greedy that you need fifty percent profit on ten items, when you can sell many more items if the customers see a lower price tag.
  • Excel in service. Tim's Automotive in Kingston, New York has done good work for my crew, and we recommend them. In fact, this "word of mouth" advertising brought us there.
  • Listen to the customer's needs as well as their words. Don't be a cheap stronzo and try to get them to spend money on something they don't need. Sell the correct product or service and they'll love you for that.
OK, Cowboy Bob is done for today. I hope you learned something. In fact, I implore you to follow this advice. And feel free to use the comments section.

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