The older couple in front of me at the “Everything is a Dollar Store” had a cart full of food, most of it frozen, with no “junk food.” I had only three items in my basket, so I had plenty of time to watch them finish their transaction. They pulled out an EBT card (food stamps) and told the clerk that they would pay whatever was not covered by the EBT card with their credit card. The clerk told them that they would need to put $3.23 on their credit card, swiped their card and then asked the question that has become routine at the checkout line, “Would you like cash back?” The gentleman said, “Yes, give me $10.” The clerk checked her machine and said, “There is a $1 service fee for that.” And, he replied, “Go ahead.” That $1 has bothered me all day.
I don’t begrudge them the EBT card. I have no doubt that they are living a tough life and need public assistance. But, I wondered about paying that $1 fee. It made no sense to me. And then I wondered how often I have paid a ridiculous price for convenience.
The financial and time management consultants all agree: little things matter. Most of the things that eat up our dollars, our time, and our talents are pretty small in themselves. It is when we add them together that we see how expensive those little things are.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned as a leader was to manage my time carefully.
- Meetings should rarely last 60 minutes; 30 minutes keep everyone (especially me!) focused on the task.
- I could do “other work” during conference calls. For instance, my signature went on many “second pages” of letters. Signing these generic pages required no thinking on my part. So, a stack of “second pages” was kept ready for the next conference phone call.
- When asked to meet with someone face-to-face or via phone, the scheduler would inform the caller that I had only __ minutes (the amount depending on the subject). By having a time limit, the caller was forced to structure their presentation. We got more done in less time.
- When traveling, my job allowed me to limit my “after hours” social activities. I would have dinner in my room and spend my evening doing needlework, writing personal correspondence or making personal calls (at my expense). By staying in touch with the people I love, travel was less burdensome and disruptive.
The next time that someone asks you for that $1, or 30 minutes or your assistance, think hard. Use wisely what has been entrusted to you.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and try me in this, said the Lord: if I open not unto you the flood-gates of heaven, and pour you out a blessing even to abundance. (Malachi 3:10)