A number of years ago I read a delightful story about a highway traffic problem in which an 18-wheeler truck became stuck under an overpass, creating quite a problem for the city transportation department.
Various approaches were attempted to disconnect and detach the truck, but to no avail. It seemed there were only two options: dismantle the vehicle or remove part of the overpass, both costly in time and money. A young boy, who had been watching and listening to the goings-on, walked over to one of the city officials and said, "Sir, why don't you just let the air out of the tires?" Truly, a simple answer to a difficult problem can come "out of the mouth of babes" (Ps. 8:2; Matt. 11:25; 21:16 KJV).
How many times have you and I found ourselves in a complicated situation, not realizing that with a different perspective or an outside the box viewpoint we could have saved ourselves an enormous amount of time, money and other resources. To assist you this year in unscrambling your financial circumstances, be it in your business, congregation, or personal life, here are some true stories to get your creative juices going.
Business Trump's Way
In his book, Time to Get Tough, Donald Trump tells about his experience when he decided to open the Trump National Golf Club at Rancho Palos Verdes in the Los Angeles area. His business managers immediately informed him that he would need to build a brand-new, expensive ballroom. The problem was that the current ballroom, although exquisite and elegant, was losing business from corporations and individuals because it only seated 200 people when most organizations and families needed a larger space for conferences and wedding events. Being a man of action, Trump had his business managers complete a cost analysis and was informed that a new ballroom would cost $5 million. Upon getting the facts and figures, Trump took a trip to see the facility in person. He took one look at the room and immediately knew what needed to be done.
This is what he wrote: "The problem wasn't the size of the room, it was the size of the chairs. They were huge, heavy, and unwieldy. We didn't need a bigger ballroom, we needed smaller chairs!"1 He had his people purchase high-end, smaller chairs. They sold the outmoded, yet attractive, larger chairs, which actually brought in more money than the cost of the 320 new chairs. Ultimately, because he thought outside the box and used a little common sense, Mr. Trump was able to provide the space his patrons needed and he saved several million dollars of construction expenses.
When our children were small, like most young couples, we desired a home of our own, but we were living in a small apartment, on one salary and with little opportunity to save for a down payment. During that time, I happened to read about a couple who house sat for a family that went overseas for two years. During that time they judiciously saved up their monthly rent and had enough for a down payment on a home of their own when the family returned from overseas.
A few weeks later I was in a conversation with a couple that was going overseas on a two-year mission trip and remembering what I had read, I asked them if they would consider having us house sit their home. They agreed with two conditions, that we pay the property taxes and allow them to store their furniture and household goods in one section of the garage. Unfortunately the couple returned in only twelve months, but by faithfully putting away the amount each month that would have been our rent payment, we were able to put down $10,000 as a deposit on a first time buyers loan for a home of our own.
What about you?
When it comes to individual or family money management, it seems that the majority of people just hope and pray that there is more money than days at the end of each month. If you find yourself or your family in this haphazard financial predicament, why not try these outside the box fundamental suggestions:
Develop and stick with a budget for the next three months.
Save $1,000 in an emergency account to avoid having to use a high interest credit card for unexpected crises.
Resolve to be out of consumer debt within the next two years.
Plan to contribute regularly to your congregation's budget, rather than giving a $1 nod to God's work every now and then.
Plan and pay in advance for your next vacation, rather than just letting it happen.
Prepare for your future by matching your employer's contribution to your retirement account.
Too often we look for solutions to our everyday troubles, obstacles and problems of life as a direct-line approach, when looking at these situations from several viewpoints can make a big difference in finding a resolution. Remember, you can solve most situations by going around, over, under and through them, but occasionally it is the outside the box or even beyond the box perspectives that will make a big difference in our lives.