Saving a Dime to Spend a Dollar

GreedyLast night I watched the beginning (but missed the rest) of Oprah's Big Give show. I loved the premise – provide someone with $2,500 and the person who does the best job at raising the most money wins.

At the heart of the show was that you had to go and meet the person or people you were helping. As a result, the pressure wasn't just to perform – it was truly not to let the people down that you were there to help.

What I've read as a follow up is that the $2,500 was really inconsequential. The $2,500 was really just to enable you not to worry about transportation, phone calls, organization, etc. The real money was at the other end of a phone call to a company or a celebrity. If you really concentrate on where and how you're going to spend the $2,500 so that you can squeeze the most out of it, you lose. If, instead, you ignore the $2,500 and concentrate on the big money – you're on your way!

How much is a Dollar?

The parallel for me is the investment we make in our work. If you've got the financial resources, worrying about how much you can save on buying a piece of office equipment may be a dumb. Example: So you have an employee making $30/hr who's work is valued at $70/hr scouring the internet to save $25. If they spent an hour online shopping for the best price on a new printer, you just lost $15. Instead, you should have just bought the first printer you found and sold that employee's services for $70. You would have made more than $15.

Why more? Because scouring the Internet trying to save a few bucks on a printer sucks and it wasn't what your employee was hired to do. They would have rather been working on their project, and you would have been better off if they had. They would have met their goals, been on time, and been polished in their craft.

Never Bet the Minimum

When I was married, I went on a trip to Las Vegas and Laughlin with my wife. I wasn't a gambler, but her parents were. Her Mom's only advise to me was always to bet the max. I sat for quite a while playing video blackjack and video poker one night and was dumping $1.25 in at a time. It doesn't sound like much, but I was in the Navy at the time so I didn't have too much money. I think our ‘gambling budget' was $30 each per day.

After a while, when I saw the bottom of my bucket, I started putting in 4 quarters at a time.. then 3… then 2… then 1… and I hit a Royal Flush. My mother-in-law cheered for me – until she saw the payout of $62.50. Her jaw dropped. Had I continued with my $1.25, I would have been about $25,000 wealthier. Instead, I just had another bucket of quarters.

I learned my lesson.

Spread Your Bet

In my current job, I've gotten to watch and observe the investors in the business and it was an eye opener. Our investors didn't empty their savings accounts and cash in their retirements to gamble on us. Instead, they invested in 10 companies and they balance their attention accordingly. They didn't invest all their time and money in a single business hoping, praying, and stressing that it would make it.

They spread their money in ten businesses and sought to help each business by helping them where they could. Some of our investors simply provide feedback as if they were a client. Some provide financial and some provide technical feedback. They recognize how their strengths could be utilized within each business and they portion it accordingly. I'm quietly amazed as they tell us to blow $25k here and $25k there as if it were nothing. It's because it is nothing.

They want us to bet the max and concentrate on the business, not on the savings account.

In other words, they're not shopping for the lowest cost printer nor do they want us to be.


  1. 1

    A royal flush in Black Jack, that’s a hell of a hand!

    By the way Doug, I tried clicking the permalink to this post from the RSS feed and got a “We couldn’t find that! Either you’re lost or we are!” message. I’m not sure what’s up, but I thought you’d like to know.

    • 2

      Oops! Forgot the ‘and video poker’. The irony is that I did hit on Keno the last night and paid for the trip. I missed another big jackpot. And at the airport I missed another jackpot. I’m a little thick sometimes!

      Re: The RSS – I had an issue when it first published. I thought it didn’t publish and I modified the post slug. I’m a real winner tonight! 😉

  2. 3

    Doug – I agree that time is money and that spending an hour looking for the best price is wasteful. However, I don’t think that means buy the first one you see at whatever price. If it takes me five minutes to call up,, and to see which has the best price, it’s worth the time for me.

What do you think?

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