Are you feeling the crunch? That feeling you might be getting when you pull into a gas station? But what do you d0 – you need to meet with those clients, and get your work done.
In the last few months, gas has climbed higher and faster than it ever has before. In some areas, gas is priced at close to $5 a gallon. In Denver, Colorado, prices jumped 62 cents a gallon in the month of March.
People complain about gas prices, but they still have to work. As an independent contract worker, I use my vehicle to get to meetings and get work done. Nowadays, I work in schedules, so I know where I am going, and try to make multiple trips in one shot. Being organized in driving is a pain, but there are some advantages.
I have also found my internet and phone get more of a workout. If I can do something over email or the phone, it saves me on time and travel. I have also found some great programs that help me keep my business going without having to travel.
If you have a computer and internet connection, then online meeting software is a great way to get things done. The more you can meet with people from the comfort of home or office, the better. Another great advantage to meeting online is if someone had to go home for an emergency, they can call in to participate.
There are many ways to meet from home. Skype is a great way to call and even video call. You can also meet with more than one person. If you are on a one-on-one conversation, this software will really flip the bill. Skype can be installed on PC, Mac, Linux, or iPad.
If you need to meet with multiple people, and do a little more, than a program like GotoMeeting might be the answer. You meet with up to 15 people, and you can even share screens, so they can see a presentation, or your desktop screen. They have a video conferencing option called “HD faces” where you can see everyone face-to-face. It also works on PC, Mac and iPad.
FreeConfrenceCallHD.com is another way to meet with people. The service is free, and you can have up to a 6 hour conference call (if needed). People can participate via phone or computer.
With all these options (and a lot more out there), you can meet with a client, make a call to the family, organize your friends for important (Fantasy Football) meetings, and more. You save time and travel with these programs.
Another way to save on gas is to organize your meetings, then put your calendar and projects where people can see them. If you can organize your day, you might just see less time at the pump. Best part – you can set up a drive schedule, so you are driving less around town for meetings.
Google Calendar is a real easy way to put a calendar online. You can set it up where certain people can see it, or the whole world. You can share the calendar, so if you have an assistant, they will help you organize your life.
On the same token, Google Documents lets you collaborate with others on projects. Call up a spreadsheet and share it with others. They could view, or you can give them option to edit. You then can meet to discuss the changes.
There are some other companies that allow sharing calendars and collaboration of docs. Zoho is one of those programs – they have been around for a few years now, and can actually replace programs like support ticket trackers, HR personnel, Invoicing, and more. You can use free for personal use, and prices start at $12 a month for 3 users.
Online Social Media Presence
Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By updating your website, Facebook, Twitter and more, you can actually use it to point people to what you do. A photographer – for example – might have a Flickr page with their photos. A site like that can also set up private and public pictures, so the public doesn’t see all your work (or work that is considered questionable).
For Facebook or Google+, you can create a business page. The pictures, videos, posts and more can tell a good story of you and your company. Then you can say “Just watch that cool video I posted last week, and you will understand how we do this”.
Putting up a couple “How To” videos, also can help you sell yourself. If you are not an “On-camera” person, then you can write how to posts.
If you are a business professional, and not on LinkedIn, then you might want to rethink your social network presence. LinkedIn is a great way to meet people looking to build their careers, too. You can post jobs, apply to jobs and coordinate business. It’s not a place where people post pictures of their parties, or food. If you are looking to make more money so you don’t have to worry about filling at the pump, then you might want to get on this social network.
If you do need to drive that car, then getting the best tuned vehicle can be important. Making sure your tires are filled, the air filter is clean and the fluids are level, can save you cash at the pump.
Get your car on a schedule. Some car companies are building apps so you can keep better track of when the oil was changed, when it’s time to look at the Transmission and when to get the brakes checked. By having this information, your resale value on the car might be better, because the buyer knows you took care of your car.
You can also find alternate ways to keep the car at home. Bus and subway (if available in your area) is the easiest. Many cities have bus schedules online, so you know where the bus stop is and don’t have to wait an hour for the next bus.
If you can bike to a location, that might be a good alternate answer. Just as long as you don’t need to transport some heavy items like computers or proposals.
Taxi services are starting to use hybrid cars to power their fleet. Therefore, prices for a cab ride might not be as bad as driving. With a smartphone app like cab4me, you can call a cab to pick you up when you need to. Some cab companies even set up accounts for you, so you don’t have to pull out the credit card or cash every time you step in a cab. Best part – cab ride receipts are tax deductible.
Shop Local and online
A lot of people don’t realize it, but you can shop online and still shop locally. Instead of heading to that big box office store, why not find a local retailer, put together a budget and buy your supplies in one shot?
When you want to shop for something, ask the local retailer if they ship items. If you don’t need it today, then it can be shipped to your home or work within a few days. That also keeps local employees working, which help with the local economy.
Even if you use a service like eBay and Amazon, you can find 3rd party retailers that work out of your city or state. If they offer free shipping, you can get your supplies without having to go anywhere.
There are many other ways to cut down on your driving, these are just a few ideas. But let us know what works for you! Tweet us @Methodshop and let us know how you save money in this economy!