When it comes to finding efficiencies and cost savings, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeves. It’s certainly helpful as an entrepreneur – sometimes bootstrapped. Of course, not all things are tricks as much as they are realizations. Here are a few:
- I attended Emory University’s Goizueta Business School back 2012-2013 for my MBA. Back then, early on, at least, I thought I was going to graduate and re-enter the world of consulting. I suspected I would garner a nice-sized pay bump. I had visions of getting a BMW M3 and upgrade my house (purchased 2009). Except, I ended up going full-time into boot-strapped entrepreneurship. There were no upgrades. I kept my expenses relatively low, and stuck it out with the same car and house for years. I did eventually change my car last year but stayed in my house. What’s fascinating are the visions for bigger, better when I thought about higher wages. However, they’re not things I needed. I’ve been happy in my home, and honestly, I probably should’ve kept my car instead upgrading. Not everything needs to be (or should be) “upgraded”.
- I eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. Outside of company lunches or going out with others, I largely eat peanut butter sandwiches. No, there’s no jelly. Over the years, they’ve tasted more and more bland. However, I stick to them for a few reasons. For one, they’re incredibly cheap. Two, I eat one at a time and perhaps three throughout the day. It helps control my appetite while providing some nourishment. Three, it takes seven swipes of the knife with about a tablespoon of peanut butter to spread + a couple minutes in the toaster oven. When this is extrapolated across the days of the week, the weeks in the month, and the months in the year, it’s a known quantity of what I’m dealing with – highly efficient in preparation and cost. Four, it’s incredibly clean. Without jelly, a toasted peanut butter sandwich keeps my hands clean, and the sandwich bag can be reused throughout the week. Eating while working then is easy. Five, at any moment, I can still be flexible in going out for lunch. The sandwich I would have for lunch that day can be saved for tomorrow. The shelf-life is helps extend that “lunch runway”.
- Oatmeal for breakfast almost every day. I don’t typically eat or go out for breakfast like I occasionally do for lunch, so my breakfasts are even more routine than peanut butter sandwiches. In this case, it’s a half-cup of oatmeal. I’ve recently thrown in a half-tablespoon of chia seeds for more substance. I put more water into the oatmeal than required, and I prepare it in a cup. This allows me to “drink” the oatmeal without using utensils. It keeps everything clean while being highly efficient for consumption.
- Blueberries or similar small, round fruits for fruit/ snack. Another staple of my daily diet is a cup of blueberries, typically, kept in a round container. Blueberries in a round container allows me to also “drink” the blueberries as they roll out of the cup. It’s simple. Like the sandwiches and oatmeal, this snack keeps my hands clean while reducing “friction” of utensils, peeling a fruit, use my fingers to pick up, etc.
- Meal prep with an Instant Pot. My dinners are usually varied from week to week – contrary to my otherwise routine daily meals. However, I still have the same dinner throughout that week. Ever since I acquired an Instant Pot, I’ve been able to prepare a larger, more varied quantity of food while adding varying degrees of taste. It’s been fantastic versus my tried and true pasta menus of the past.
I’ve always been easy with money – never budgeting. I made enough while being light on expenses to not worry much about budget or retirement. However, times have changed.
In my current “situation”, I’ve become much more cost-conscious as my income has dipped significantly. I used to view my financial position as comfortable, and I wanted to be able to go out without worrying about buying “extra things” if I wanted. However, this has since flipped. It’s a different lifestyle I am adapting. I still go out and visit the local coffee shop to work. I’ve determined that spending a little in this area enables me to be more productive in other areas. Thus, it’s an investment I should make. However, I am being humbled with my choices now. Even little purchases like choosing a medium-sized drink vs. a small is coming into view. My selection of a simple iced tea is not just out of preference anymore.
I share all of this to be transparent while also helping others consider the choices they make – need vs. want. I still take in some luxuries; though, much less frequently. But also, all my small “sacrifices” and tweaks are just that – small. They can add up to be a more significant cost mitigation. However, they can easily be wiped out with a single carefree moment.
For example, my car that I traded in last year was fully paid off. I had just received a pay bump at my job. Now, I pay almost $600 monthly. That’s an incredible expense today. Forgoing a few Grande Strawberry Acai Refreshers and Pad Thai dinners don’t mitigate anywhere close to that monthly car payment.
This is a humbling experience. I can easily pull a rip cord and jump back into a high-paying job where none of the financial pressures I put on myself today “matter”. However, how would that fit into? How does all of this affect my pursuit of entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship oftentimes boils down to burn rate.
I’m also enjoying this experience and financial perspective. This is causing me to think more critically about my resources and expenditures in every way.
Think about where you are today in your home, your car, your clothes. Are you still seeking more? Why? What happens when you cut back on expenses? What happens when you cut back on pay?