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How to Simplify Your Life Financially

Early last year I decided I wanted to simplify my financial life. I had a bunch of bills and felt like, while I was making good money on paper, I didn’t have a lot (or any) left at the end of the month.

First I cut out my lawn guy at $60/mow. He would mow my lawn roughly every 10 days from mid-April to November….20 or 21 times. That’s approximately $1200/yr saved. I’m now on my second year of mowing my lawn myself and will have saved $2400 by the end of this mowing season.

Next I sold my truck, boat, and airplane and bought a ‘98 Acura as a beater. I’m not sure this was a good idea, but I sold my truck for $6500 and bought my beater for $1000. I’d rather have my truck but I did use some of that money to invest in my children’s 529 college plan.

I really enjoyed owning an airplane, but the honeymoon had worn off and a 40 year old airplane is a money pit.

The boat was just stupid.

I got rid of Netflix but that only lasted a few months. I have it back now, but we haven’t had cable since 2006 and we don’t miss it.

I also got rid of an old refrigerator through the power company. It was using $5-$10 month of electricity, but West Penn Power took it away for free and gave me a $50 check for it. Nice!

I also feel that term life insurance is extremely important and while this added to my expenses, an additional $500K policy for $36/month is must-do for every husband. Get 10-12 times your annual income in term life.

Just getting rid of stuff is an amazing feeling. Some stuff I sold and other stuff I simply gave away. Having less stuff frees you and it feels great.

What are you doing to simplify your life?

My former plane
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How to sell to Government Agencies

Be ready for a long sales cycle. The government makes slow decisions and it’s even slower when you’re trying to convince them to buy something they haven’t purchased before or switch vendors.

Like all buyers, though, it’s still run by people who are more inclined to buy from you if they like you. The first step is to make sure you are communicating with the buyer and not someone who thinks they are. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking the questions, “are you the decision maker for this field?” and “is there anyone else I should include?” during this process.

Once you’ve established a relationship you have to work on gaining an advantage and that advantage is for you to be written into the bid specs. Every company has their competitive advantage that is somewhat different than your competitors. Even if you feel you don’t have anything special, you can still ask to have the bid specifications written as such; “equipment provided shall be the ’12” pump’ as provided by Godwin Pumps of Bridgeport, NJ.” I specifically mention Godwin Pumps because they have done an absolutely incredible job at getting their pumps specified in government bids. Their pumps aren’t any better, but they asked to be specified and the customer complied.

If you can get your company or product mentioned in the bid, you are leap years ahead of the competition. Let me know how it works out for you! email me at david.digennaro@gmail.com

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How to Get a Raise (Hint: Give yourself one instead)

There are three ways to get a raise:

  1. Ask for a raise (almost never works)
  2. Get a competing offer and go to your manager (pisses your company and boss off)
  3. Give yourself a raise (best option)

I remember the first, and only, time I asked for a raise. I was a recent graduate from college and was managing the operations of a million dollar branch of a Midwest pesticide company. I was getting paid about $45,000/year, but I felt I deserved more.

It was tough to work up the courage, but having to live 45 minutes away in a tiny apartment and the realization that I was living off Ramen noodles gave me that will to ask.

I didn’t have a chance. I had absolutely nothing prepared on my market value, but I knew I wanted more money. The conversation went way better than I thought it would! We talked for a while discussed a bunch of non-work things and in the end he said he’d get work on it and get back to me! Wow! What a nice guy!

2 months later, I never heard a thing and the only feedback I got was, “that thing you asked me about…I’m still working on it.”

It was a good experience, though, in that it prepared me for future salary negotiations. Later, the same company would promote me to a sales representative and give me an $8,000.00 raise plus commission without asking for it. And that is how you give yourself a raise. Change jobs within the same company that pays more.

I’ve also gotten a raise using a competing offer. I got an offer for a few thousand more dollars and then brought it to them and then they gave me a $12,500 raise to counter it, but I did that the wrong way. If I had wanted to stay at hat company, I should’ve said, “Mike, I got another offer, but I’m not going to take it. But what does my future look like here?”

My advice to you is this: Give yourself a raise by working hard and efficient and/or transition to a sales job where you can earn commission. Here are a couple steps you can do to work harder:

  1. Turn off the TV (HGTV consistently shows reruns from 5-7 years ago…really?)
  2. Work AT LEAST 2 hours per night on research, proposals, and education

Try these two steps and you’ll find you’ll give yourself a raise in no time.

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How to Deal With Difficult Coworker/Sales Rep

I was in the process of making the company I worked for a lot of money. Like tens of millions in a short amount of time. I had made contact with a company in my territory and immediately established a good relationship with the decision maker, who just happened to live a mile away from where I grew up. I was also making a lot of contact with other companies we could potentially work and establishing relationships with them.

In comes my boss….here’s the new sales rep! He’s going to split the business with you!

WTF.

I immediately viewed him as a threat and started searching for other jobs.

Then they made me train him. Not only were they giving him half of my territory, they were going to make me train the SOB?!?!

That’s when my attitude changed. It turns out he was out of a job due to the economy and wasn’t looking to step on my toes. He was also very good at selling and building relationships and I realized I could learn a lot from him.

It took a couple years before we became the friends we are today, but he and I still stay in touch even though we’re both at different companies and live hours away.

If you are having to deal with a difficult coworker or sales rep, first try to spend more time with them to see things from their point of view. Not just a 10 minute meeting a day….you need to go on a business trip with them or a long drive to visit a client.

Try this and give me feedback on what you found!

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My First Flight in a Tiny Airplane

Before I became a pilot, I didn’t have a strong opinion on airplanes either way. They were interesting, but, like most people nowadays, I simply viewed them as a necessary evil/vehicle to get from A to B. I do, however, have the pleasure of remembering what it was like to fly before 9/11, but that’s another blog.

I became friends with a couple of customers and they were both pilots. And both of them talked about flying. A lot. I had never known a real pilot before in my life and was intrigued at how someone could have the balls to fly one of those tiny things around. Then he offered to take me for a flight.

It was an Aeronca Champ, similar to a Piper Cub, where you had to fold yourself to get in and the pilot sat behind you in a tandem seating arrangement. We bumped along in the grass and pulled onto the grass next to the runway. “Aren’t you supposed to be on the pavement?” I asked through the headphone mic….”Nah…the grass is softer.”

Taking off and flying in that Aeronca was a feeling that was tough to describe. If you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle a bicycle, picture yourself riding on the road and then suddenly leaving the earth. Even that doesn’t accurately describe how amazing it is to have a view of the treetops as if you were a Great Blue Heron lumbering along to search for some frogs.

We flew over some of the sites we mutually worked on, we flew over the golf course I played a bunch of times and flew up and down the road I commuted on nearly every day. Seeing all those things from the air made me appreciate the wonderful, rural, land I worked in and instantly gave me a new appreciation for my friend Larry. That flight also gave me a curiosity and passion for something I had never experienced before. That’s what flying will do…almost every flight in a small airplane enriches your life and is an amazing vehicle for making friends.

Larry and I continued to do business together and I would later keep him updated on my progress as I started my flight training. I moved away, but still run into Larry occasionally and I always make it a point to thank him for that first flight. That was a tremendous gift, and I’m not even sure he realized he gave me anything.