It’s been a while, but I do remember scrounging for change—flipping over couch cushions, checking the slot at the vending machines, walking a parking lot for anything that’d been dropped or forgotten.
A paper route and other gigs soon changed my focus, and I discovered the power of steady income. Whether we’re talking about one-off opportunities or streams, there are plenty of ways to check for change in the couch cushions.
Maybe you’ve heard someone advise you, “Don’t leave money on the table.” It often comes up in negotiations or sales situations, but there are scrounge-worthy lessons for many areas of our financial lives. Some ideas we love?
- Knowing what you need—and not just what you want or could use. This self-knowledge provides great perspective. When we keep the basics in mind, we know where the bar is. Anything above the bar is extra, bonus, a cherry on top. The practical implication is that awareness makes us more patient. If a purchase or expenditure is not an immediate need, we know we can afford the time to wait for a sale, a deal, a change of season, or any other more opportune moment. This is saving your scrounging for the right time.
- Asking for what you’re after. You know we believe in the practice of transparency: there’s not much to be gained by withholding our goals or expectations. It gives the other parties involved—a boss considering your next raise, a mentor, a new financial advisor?—a chance to do their best for you. And if people still aren’t in alignment, wouldn’t you rather know sooner than later? This is a method of scrounging for time to work toward your goals.
- Remembering you don’t know what you don’t know. This could be a productive conversation starter for anyone in your circle you trust. It’s something you could ask your tax professional, your employer’s human resources department, or even our office: “In your experience, what’s something I may not know that I don’t know?” There could be opportunities people wouldn’t know to think of! This is scrounging for possibilities.
- Maximizing those matches. Yes, you know this is a favorite of ours: take full advantage of any employer match on retirement contributions. It’s more bang for your literal buck. It’s free dessert for eating a balanced meal.
We should note that we believe in leveraging opportunities: we do not believe in abusing any system to the detriment of the community. (Many of us learned our lesson in childhood: our siblings’ rooms are not fair game for scrounging the way the couch cushions are!)
There are, however, plenty of aboveboard strategies for scrounging. Opportunities abound. Which are worth it?
Clients, when you’d like to explore this topic—or anything else—write or call.
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