A Penny Saved
Around the office, I am a Jack…er, Jill, of many trades. Going over AIA contracts. Preserving lien rights on projects. Studying the enforceability of ‘Paid when Paid’ in states that I’ve never even been to. Keeping clients happy. Trying to fix our toilet that sometimes sounds like a dolphin. You name it, I’ve probably found myself doing it a time or two.
One thing that I find myself doing far more of than I ever intended is serving as a bit of a pro bono financial advisor.
Now, as somebody who has no idea how much is in my bank account right now, this could not be more of an ironic task: I do not have a business degree. I did not intern at Goldman Sachs. I did buy a velvet cape at the thrift store last month, because it looked cool, and it was only $8, and I have questionable taste regarding “cool”.
So, in other words, I’m probably the wrong person to turn to for financial advice.
Then again, I’m also the wrong person to turn to for toilet repair advice (see I Should Have Been a Plumber) but I did a pretty great job of freeing Flipper from the ol’ commode. And, in that spirit, I would like to share the piece of advice that I spend so. much. time. going over with clients:
Don’t buy stupid stuff.
Err…don’t buy too much stupid stuff.
That velvet cape? Probably pretty stupid. But also, $8.
Particularly if you’re working construction, things will go wrong. They always go wrong. That’s why the last building project that came in under budget and ahead of schedule was completed by a team of brontosauruses…and even then, it was a real shock to the dinosaur community.
If you are taking on a new construction job, please leave yourself some cushion.
I know the numbers on the contract are huge. I know the projected profit margins look great. I know that your old work truck makes some funny noises and kind of smells like feet. I know that the King Range F250 Super Duty looks awesome, and does not smell like feet. My husband’s a contractor. Trust me, I’m….way more familiar with the condition of aging work trucks than I want to be.
But dang it, for the sake of all that is good and right with this world (as well as for the sanity of everybody involved), DO NOT GO OUT AND BUY THAT TRUCK THAT COSTS MORE THAN THREE YEARS OF LAW SCHOOL.
At least, not right now.
Once that awesome $1.8M project is over, and it turns out that the profit margins really were 40%? By all means, it’s time to upgrade to something that doesn’t smell like a junior high locker room. Until then, though, please remember that a penny saved is a penny earned…and that better yet, the penny ‘earned’ through another year of dealing with stinky trucks is a much easier penny to come by than the one involving August heat, a cranky project manager, and a 78 page subcontract.