Now that the kids are back in school, it’s worth reminding drycleaners that education should never stop. Whether related to the industry or the many other topics relevant to life, imagine how informed you’d be if you learned something new every day.
My latest learning experiences have come from two financial gurus, one of whom tells you how to live well on the money you’ve got, and another who tells people how to live “green” and prosper. I offer them as recommendations for operators who want to keep more of their money.
The first is Dave Ramsey, host of the Dave Ramsey Show on cable and radio. “Debt is dumb, and cash is king,” is his motto. His down-to-earth bestseller, The Total Money Makeover, dispenses simple advice his “grandmother could have given,” such as, “Don’t spend more than you earn,” and, “Don’t expect Washington to solve your problems.”
No matter how rich or how broke you are, he says, only you can keep yourself (or get yourself) out of debt. “Get a backbone and say ‘No’ to unnecessary spending,” he says. Each dollar you make should have a “name” on it; when planning a personal or business budget, pay the essentials first — food, utilities, and medical, transportation and housing expenses. Ramsey’s strategies are simple, but they work.
The industry is faced with high gas prices, hanger tariffs and environmental cleanup costs. With those albatrosses around our necks, even paying the essential costs requires a strict plan.
Ramsey often says, “Sell the car!” Auto loans are a cost that can be reduced easily; get a decent used car and pay in cash. People who take new jobs for less money may wish to sell their houses and downsize, renting until they can spend less than they make.
In these times, debt isn’t worth the stress it brings. You may have months of living on beans and rice, but once you pay off your debt, he says, “You can live like no one else.”
The other financial guru I’ve been paying attention to lately is David Bach, the author of five New York Times bestsellers including Go Green, Live Rich: Fifty Simple Ways to Save The Earth (And Get Rich Trying).
“I believe, as many around the world do, that we have reached a turning point on the environment,” Bach writes. “We have come to a point in time where what we do as people to change the tide of global warming and reverse its effects on our planet requires stronger action than we have taken.
“I am convinced that we will take action, and that the action we take to become environmentally smarter will shape the environment and economic future of all of us,” he continues. “Going green is about our kids, our families, our lives. Just do one green thing today — it will lead to more.”
He points out that Americans drink more than 100 billion cups of coffee each year. Of these, 14.4 billion are served in disposable paper cups — enough to wrap the Earth 55 times, placed end-to-end. Bottled water is another issue; using free tap water in a reusable bottle and a Thermos coffee cup can save the planet — and money, too.
Bach talks about fuel reduction, wind power, light bulbs, “green” buildings, tree planting, “green” lawns and much more. Now, there’s even a “green” mortgage — the Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) available as part of a federal program to help home buyers finance energy-efficient upgrades and buy energy-efficient homes.
Again, the idea is simple: An energy-efficient home costs less to operate. With lower utility bills, the bank knows you’ll be able to afford a bigger mortgage. Socially responsible investing is another option, and Ramsey and Bach alike believe we should give to good causes.
Every dollar should be earmarked for a purpose before it’s spent; good planning creates wealth. Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey are available at bookstores. Good reading to you, and a secure financial future to all.