Friday, August 21, 2009


I for one have a love affair with numbers. Seriously, I LOVE numbers. Good solid numbers. While I was growing up I freaked my cousins out with the way I could add, subtract, divide, multiply etc so quickly in my head. Now I’m no Charlie from the tv show “Numbers” but good basic math I’m good with.

Over my lifetime this love affair has saved me from making many a financial mistake. That is when I actually stop to actually do the math. This morning is a good example.

When I went to bed last night it was with full intentions of getting up this morning and packing like crazy to leave to do shops on Sunday. We had found 17 shops at $12 + a $2 mandatory shop reimbursement each with one company in an area three hours south of home that could be done back to MAYBE. Another company had 8 at an average of $15 each, another had maybe 4 at $10 each, while a fourth one had 4 at $6 plus a $5 reimbursement each and there was one at a fifth company for $18 plus a $5 reimbursement. WOW right?

Only my lover whispered in my ear, come to me do math with me. So I rose from the bed, your best thoughts always come to you in bed right, grabbed my pad and pen and here’s what my oh so wise lover told me.


12 x 17=204

12 x 02= 24

08 x 15=120

04 x 10= 40

04 x 06= 24

04 x 05= 20


34 shops 432

Wow, not bad huh? “Or is it?” my seductive lover whispered in my ear. “What goes into doing those 34 shops? How much will you spend to do them?” Okay right off the bat let’s look at those reimbursements. The $2 ones are for a convenience store item purchase required by the employer. Sometimes you can get by under $2 and they reimburse you for the exact amount of purchase, other times you go OVER and the reimbursement is for strictly the $2. Let’s say we simply break even on average for the sake of the math. It’s the same for the four at a $5 reimbursement. They are fast food and it’s the same case scenario. So break even on those as well.

So that shows up in the math this way.






Then there are the limitations on the number you can feasibly do a day as well as the ones the companies impose upon you. Those 17 shops, well the company will only allow you to do four of them a day. So that’s five days you require to do them. You also need to allow travel time to get to the area and then back home or to the next place to shop. So say six days. Remember the number six because it’s about to become the great multiplier.

First you have to get to the area and each of the jobs and then back home or to the next job area. I happen to know from running out of this area before that we averaged 200 miles per day driving. I know it sounds like a lot, but remember we are talking round trips. So 1,200 miles of wear and tear and fuel for my truck for six days. We get around 19 mpg on average. For the sake of easy math though we’ll say 20mpg and dream about it. So we are talking 60 gallons of diesel to do this driving. Right now diesel is hanging about $2.50 per gallon, sometimes slightly more, sometimes slightly less, but for the best case scenario let’s say $2.50 after all it makes the math simpler. So 60 X $2.50 = $150.





We have to park the camper somewhere those six nights we’d be camped and the lowest campground where we can disconnect the trailer we know of is $12 per night or $72.





Still a little profit right? Only that is 34 shops, 17 of which take an hour to do the shop, then another hour to file or 34 hours. The remaining 17 jobs take a total of another 17 hours so it’s going to take 51 hours to do those shops.

166 / 51 =3.254 per hour NOT including your driving time down the back roads and through city traffic to do these jobs. Don’t forget these are all BEST case scenario numbers too. We’ve not even included wear and tear on your vehicle, your camper and your nerves. Or the fact that you are going to have to wait 45 days to get that first $44 reimbursement back.

Of course I whispered back to my lover, “but $166 is still better than adding nothing to my small bank account. “

“Is it?” the seductress replied “or would you make more money staying home?”

Making money staying home you might ask? First there is that $44 that never leaves your checking account for 45 days. My checking account makes a miniscule amount of savings, we might make a mil of a cent interest on that $44 for the amount of time it would be gone. So that’s negligible. The amount I would have to lay out for fuel right now, however is NOT. Nor are any of the other expenses. The campground, fuel, mandatory purchases etc all gone for 45 days in my checking account that’s going to add up to a $1 or more. If God forbid it gets put on a credit card it’s much more expense depending on how long you leave those charges on your charge card, but we’ll go with the $1 for right now.

In my Princess Plan I speak about culling things from your life for not only peace of mind, but for profit. If we were to spend those same six days cleaning and listing items on the numerous free sites on the web for sale it wouldn’t take long to see a far larger profit. The amount would depend on what we actually sold. Right now I have a lot of older homesteading type magazines (Mother Earth News, Organic Gardening, Herb Companion, Backyard Poultry, Countryside and many more) already sorted and ready to list. IF all of those sold, and that is a huge IF during the next 6 days it would take less time to do, a smaller layout of cash –read NONE, and net me more money. That’s just magazines. Multiply that times the hundreds of other things I have to list for sale and you can see where the potential to do more to generate actual income is there. IF it sells.

There is that giant IF, but remember the word IF was in the first scenario too. IF we got all 17 jobs, and there is a huge chance we could get none of them or worse obligate myself to do that six days and be given six jobs or less. Then all the camping fees and the to and from the area (not the 34 shops worth of driving) is spent for very little income and we go in the hole.

Even if we sell nothing we benefit from being home by getting some much needed repairs completed on the camper, cleaning the house, mowing the acreage, cutting firewood, household repairs, truck maintenance, bulk cooking, ranch tools maintenance, spread sheet entries, budgeting, computer maintenance, menu planning, and winterizing the house.

The repairs needed and the maintenance on all those items head off big expenses in the future. Cleaning the house can be a real money saver/maker. A clean house takes less utilities to cool/heat, money saved is money earned. Cleaning house allows you to find more things to sell and sometimes you find things you forgot you had that help you on down the road. All that computer works adds to your efficiency in a household, efficiency saves money.

Firewood, winterizing, those look to the cold winter ahead and huge money saved on utilities.

Menu planning helps you make the most of what you have on hand, or what’s on sale. I have a goal of having menus eventually planned out for as much as a year. No I’m not a control freak, I said a goal. I am all too familiar with the fact that tastes, and life change daily, but a good basic menu plan broken down by the week for a year that took advantage of sale items—yes there are lists on the web of what is in season and on sale year round—would help prevent those oh so expensive runs to the grocery for “just a couple of things” or the even more expensive “let’s just buy pizza”. At age 59 I’ve never achieved that year of menu planning goal, but I’m a lot closer now than I was even a year ago. So I keep working toward it.

We just spent a small fortune on all those new programs I told you about, so taking this week or so to learn even a little of them during rest breaks would be a good idea too. Hey, there is budgeting included in the Quicken program, maybe just maybe it’s better than my current budget.

Then there is scheduling next week the available jobs for September will start coming out. They are always given on a first come first serve basis. If I’m busy doing 34 shops for $3.25 per hour I might just miss the best shops available for September and a great opportunity to string numerous higher dollar ones with all the companies I work for together to hit the $10 or more an hour we usually work for.

Then there is the big truly priceless things I’d miss by being gone next week. A week with my son and pets.

Hate to say it but Math is right. Sometimes you are better off staying home.

Jan who already has the washer humming and is off to burn the trash in OK

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