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Archive for the ‘Responsibility’ 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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The following is another bit of advice I found. I did not write it, but it still holds true. I wish I could credit the author, but he/she was not cited.

If you want to reduce your stress, then be early. If you want to impress your boss, coach, or teacher, then be early. Being late shows a lack of respect for whomever you’re dealing with. I am not talking about going to a party and being the first one there. We’ll have to deal with social etiquette another time. I am talking about virtually everything else. Staying ahead of the game, ahead of the deadline, ahead of when you have to be somewhere, and ahead of when the project is due will forever endear you to those who are expecting anything on-time. Being early shows others you are motivated, organized, and disciplined. Be known as the one they can always count on to be early, prepared, and excited to be there and you will have everyone wanting you on their team. True leaders don’t keep people waiting.

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Just Try

“That’ll never work…” “I can’t make that happen…” I hear it every day.  People conceding defeat before they even attempt to tackle the problem, or perceived problem.  More often than not, by the end of the day the problem has been tackled and solved. I think it is truly amazing what a person can achieve if they actually try.  Meeting a challenge head on and giving every effort to do the best you possibly can is what drives progress. What if Ben Franklin never tried to harness electricity? What if Thomas Edison didn’t think a light bulb would ever work?  How would we have made the progress we have over the last 200 years? Some people are persistently pessimistic.  Pessimism is very contagious. When one person makes a negative comment about their ability to meet a goal, the guy right next to him almost automatically has to one-up him.  “You think you’ve got it bad, listen to this…” Peer pressure seems to prohibit someone from even trying at all.  Many people are afraid to put forth additional effort in front of their peers for fear that they will be seen as someone who is warming up to management. I look at it as a challenge to see how well I can do.  I try to outperform and beat expectations by management.  Each of us has an ability deep down inside to adapt to any situation and achieve success.  It allows us to use critical thinking to solve any problem we may encounter. Next time a difficult situation presents itself and before you throw up your arms in defeat….just try.

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No matter where you go in life, there are rules.  When you drive, you follow a certain set of rules.  When you play a game or sport, there are rules to follow.  When you are out in public interacting with society, there are rules to follow.  Each of these examples has some form of consequence for not following the rules.  Not following the rules while driving can get you a ticket, or worse.  In games or sports, you are penalized which gives your opponent some sort of advantage. When you are in public, inappropriate behavior can get you arrested.

There are also rules at work.  These rules can be federal regulations, codes of conduct, or simply company policy.  Depending on the type of rule or the number of infractions, it is possible to be punished up to, and including dismissal.  Yet, there are still those who blatantly disregard the rules in the workplace. Why would anyone want to break the rules at work?  Your job is what pays for your home, food, clothing, car, and entertainment.  I can’t understand why someone would want to put all that in jeopardy just because they don’t want to follow a certain rule, or set of rules.

Rules are set by the employer for several reasons.  Some rules are to maximize efficiencies, and others are to protect your safety and well-being.  There are also rules that dictate what is best for the overall operation of the company.  Rules are what keep the order in the workplace.  By following the rules you are showing your employer, fellow workers, and the public that you value their interests.  When you break the rules additional expenses are incurred, someone gets hurt, or you project a bad image to the public that reflects back on your company.

Let’s think about this another way.  Your company has many rules, and they expect you to follow all of them.  To make the math easy to do in our heads, let’s say they pay you ten dollars per hour.  You only feel like following 75% of the rules your company has, because you think the other 25% are silly or inconvenient. How would you feel when payday arrived to find that the company only paid you $7.50 per hour?  You would probably feel cheated wouldn’t you?  How do you think your employer feels when he still pays you your full wage, but you fail to do the complete job?

People notice who the dependable ones are in their lives.  You build a reputation over many years, and this reputation follows you everywhere.  Your friends notice and so does your employer.  Success is achieved by those who have a higher level of personal and professional ethics in their lives.  If you want to succeed in your life, then follow the rules!

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One of the first changes you must make in your life if you want to become successful is to take charge of your own destiny.  No one out there will launch you to the top just because they want to.  You must take an active role in the path you take through life.  One phrase you will find repeated throughout this blog is “No one is responsible for you but you.” I tell my boys this all the time.

Whenever something bad happens to them, or they don’t get something done they were supposed to, the first thing they try to do is blame it on someone else.  “I didn’t get my homework done because Jimmy (or whoever) didn’t call me and I didn’t know what we were supposed to do.”  Blaming someone else for your failure is an example of not taking responsibility for yourself.  Whether Jimmy called or not, you can bet that he got his homework done.  When it starts to get late, and you haven’t heard from Jimmy they you need to take the initiative to call him.  If you can’ t reach Jimmy, call someone else.  When your reliance on someone else determines your success or failure you are not in charge of your destiny.

This same principle applies to adults who have responsibilities in life.  Maybe it is someone else s job to mail your license plate renewal form.  You can be certain that if you get a ticket because your plates expire, the judge will not accept the excuse that you never got the form.  Maybe it got lost in the mail.  Whatever the reason, it’s your neck on the line, and your responsibility to follow-up.  Call the license bureau, or go on their website and email them with your concern.  They will feel no repercussions because you didn’t get your plates renewed.

Follow up, hold their hand through the process, whatever it takes.  No one else is responsible for you.  Let’s look at the other side of this argument:

Let’s say that you are very responsible.  You pay your bills on time, you get your work done, and you are, in your mind, successful at life.  Now imagine that, in addition to taking care of yourself, you are also responsible for taking care of one other person.  (Now if you are a parent, then you really are responsible for taking care of your kids. Don’t let my words persuade you to think that you are not. I am talking about some person not related to you.)  Another guy at work, or maybe your neighbor is what I am suggesting.  OK, now back to my hypothetical situation.  In addition to taking care of yourself, you are now responsible for taking care of someone else.  How does that make you feel?  Why the heck can’t they take care of themselves you ask?  I’m sure that if this were the case, you would take care of yourself first and then try to help the other person if you have time. Since this is some random person, you don’t concern yourself with their success as much as you do with your own.  They should probably learn to take care of themselves, huh?  One less person to compete with.

And life is a competition.  Success is relative.  You are really just trying to do better than the next guy, right?  When competing for a job, a promotion, or an achievement award, or whatever, you must stand out from the group from which you are in.  Successful people are successful because they are the best in their group at what they do.  There will always be winners and losers in life.  If you don’t put forth the effort to become a winner, they you will, by default, become the loser.

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