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Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

This post is about how to make the best of volatile fuel prices and put more money in your pocket each month.

I see it all the time. Fuel prices at the pump jump 30 cents in a day and people start their bellyaching. Facebook explodes with posts about how people are being taken advantage of, ripped off, and held hostage by a seemingly unwarranted surge in gas prices. Oil prices are very complex, and there are a lot of factors that affect the price at the pump.

Very interesting news article this morning in a UK newspaper. It helps explain a bit about how and why oil fluctuates so much. It would also help to read up on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and how it works. I’m here today to tell you how to minimize the impact to your personal finances.

First of all we must admit that the cost per gallon is only half the reason our monthly fuel bills are so high. We don’t have any control over the price at the pump, so let’s stop grumbling about it. Let’s talk about what you can control, and that is the amount of fuel you need to purchase each month, and how we can reduce this factor.

First of all, look at what you are driving. If it is a monster truck, or something that gets very poor fuel mileage you may want to consider buying something more efficient. We don’t need 4WD 365 days a year. If you get 10 mpg in your current vehicle, you can cut your annual fuel bill in half by just driving a vehicle that gets 20 mpg. You can cut it by 66% if you can get a car that gets 30 mpg! There are many cars out there that get 40+ mpg. You would only spend 25% of what you are now spending! That is like $4 gas suddenly dropping to only $1 per gallon! Quite a significant improvement.

Secondly, let’s look at our driving habits. Do you warm up your vehicle for 15-20 min every day before you get into it? This vehicle is getting 0 mpg while sitting in your driveway. A car only needs to run for a minute or two before you start to drive it. It will warm up rather quickly once you get moving and working the engine.

Hard acceleration and braking are wasting fuel too. Try to accelerate more smoothly and coast a while before slowing down. You don’t always need to go hard on the brakes after a rapid acceleration. You not only save fuel this way, but brakes and tires too!

Lastly, consider investing in energy companies. Open an E*Trade account and take some of that money you’re saving and buy some stock in Exxon (XOM), Chevron (CVX) or some other oil or natural gas giant. Instead of complaining about the mega profits these giants reap every year, why not join in the harvest! You certainly can’t beat ’em, so why not join ’em?

It all boils down to being responsible for yourself and your finances. Make smart buying decisions, conserve where you can, and invest in profitable companies. You personally have more control over your fuel budget than the oil giants. Stop expecting the world to change just for you. Adapt to the changes around you and take care of yourself!

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Learn a New Skill or Hobby

If you always do what you’ve always done,

you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

This is not perfect English, but it holds true nonetheless. It is my belief that you should never get in a rut in your life. Ruts can become deep over time, and the deeper the rut you are in, the harder it is to escape. How can you avoid getting in a rut? Why don’t you try to learn something new, or take up a new hobby?

I took up photography about 20 years ago, and switched to digital in 2005. This may sound like I am in a rut, but it is not the case. Although photography has been the common theme over the past 20 years, I have been getting in deeper and learning new techniques almost nonstop since I have taken up the hobby. The first few years were fairly dull. I had a point and shoot 110 film camera and didn’t do much other than point……and…….shoot. Once I mastered (and I use the term rather loosely) that, I wanted to learn more. I bought a film SLR and experimented with manual exposure and aperture settings. I had taken classes on composition and film development. I was growing my knowledge of the hobby.

In 2005 I switched to digital and bought my first DSLR. I had previously become very familiar with composition, exposure, and aperture, but now I could expand on that. I now had the ability to adjust color temperature and ISO on a frame by frame basis. Then came post processing…. I had started to edit my photos in Photoshop! This hobby is ever changing, and there are new techniques that are developed almost daily!

This is just a personal example I wanted to share with you. There are many other hobbies that can become very interesting, and not grow stagnant over time.

New skills are important too! Whether it be work related, or a marketable skill that you can sell and use to enhance a résumé, I highly recommend branching out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Versatility and adaptability are two very important components of success, and are easy to get started on. Successful people are ahead of the curve when it comes to competing for a new position, attracting new customers, or just staying up on technology.

When you stop learning, you stop growing. Find something you like, or take a chance on something totally new. I guarantee it will keep you sharp and possibly change your life!

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Let’s face it, most people out there don’t like change. They get comfortable with the way things are and agitated when someone suggests a different way of doing things. Change is inevitable,and although most people know this, few embrace it.  After all, if successful people didn’t look for a better way of doing things, we would still be living in caves, wearing animal skin, and be without all the modern conveniences we have today.

Think about where we would all be if it weren’t for a few of these changes in life. Henry Ford brought us the first assembly line, and the ability to make many identical items quickly.  Thomas Edison gave us the light bulb.  Bill Gates and Steve Jobs put the computer into everyone’s home.

Ideally, change means to improve upon a method of doing something.  Most of the time it works, but occasionally it doesn’t.  You have to be willing to give the change an honest chance to prove itself.  In business and industry the change has usually been tested prior to implementation. The creators of the change have good reason to believe that the change will be an improvement over the old way of doing things.  Changes in business and industry are usually expensive to implement, so the decision to change is not made lightly. Change in business is in an effort to stay ahead of the competition, and operate more efficiently, and ultimately have an edge over your competitors.  It is only a matter of time before the competitor makes a change to either catch up, or surpass your efforts.  Business leaders are always thinking up new ideas and occasionally a major change to their business model.  If you are not moving forward, you’re going to be passed up.

Let’s talk about change in your personal life.  In order to accept change in your professional life, it is good to become accustomed to change in your personal life. Once you have accepted change as a fact of life, it is just a matter of adapting to each new method as it comes along.  Do you think you are able to deal with change?  Let’s ask ourselves a few questions about change.

Does your music collection dominate any one era or decade?  Do you have more music from the 70’s,  80’s, 90’s or 2000’s? If your music collection stopped growing when Lynard Skinnard was new, you may not be as accepting of change as you think.  Sure, music from these era’s is great, but music from later decades is just as good.  When your music collection stopped growing, so did you as a person.  I am not saying you shouldn’t enjoy some Zeppelin, Floyd, or Jethro Tull.  I am just suggesting you throw some Pearl Jam, Nickelback, and Buck Cherry into the mix.  Grow and change your collection.

Do you still have that awesome mullet that the ladies just loved back in the day?  Get rid of it!!  If you like long hair, there are certainly some great new styles for long hair.  Change it up a bit!  That awesome 80’s haircut is a visual sign that you are not accepting of change.  Someone does not even have to meet you to know this about you, it is evident from across the room. Take a look at the hero’s and role models you had when that haircut was popular.  Billy Ray Cyrus no longer has that “business in the front, party in the back” mullet that made him famous.  He’s still got long hair, but it changes with the times. The guys from Poison have toned it down a bit.  No longer do they sport the styles they did from back in their heyday.  Take a risk and do something different next time you are in the chair.  It will send a message to others that you are adaptable, and open to change.

Do you still have those old concert shirts from high school?  Do you still wear your Robert Plant hip huggers or bell bottoms?  Get rid of that stuff!  Go buy yourself a new shirt, or new pair of pants.  Keep up with the latest styles.  Your outward appearance is a visual cue to others that you either are, or are not able to embrace change.  This whole blog is about being successful.  How many successful people do you know who are stuck in an era from days gone by?  The next time you go shopping (and it should be soon) make an effort to notice the other shoppers around you.  Can you tell the successful ones from the ones who are just getting by?  What sets these people apart from the other shoppers?  Make a note of these visual cues and try to adapt some of them to your lifestyle.

Will a new haircut, or a new shirt make me successful?  Of course not.  Success is a life long culmination of many things. Your efforts over the long run will make a significant difference in the level of success in your life.  Like I said before, success means different things to different people.  No matter what your definition is, change should be a big part of it.

Accept, pursue, and embrace change.  It will make all the difference in the world.

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