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Minimizing Expenses: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know

By David Bakke

not what you know, but who you knowLet’s say for a moment that you were an expert in the following areas: computer repair, auto repair, insurance, mortgages, purchasing electronics, credit cards and your credit score.
If that were the case, wouldn’t life be sweet?  You could fix your computer for free, you’d never have to take your car into the shop, you would always know that you were getting the best rates on all types of insurance, you would know that you had the best mortgage available, you’d get the best prices on the electronics you buy, and so on.  All without ever having to enlist the services of a paid professional.

Unfortunately, I doubt that there is anyone on Earth that can make this claim.  That is, of being an expert in so many areas.  So, in order to do the best we can to keep costs down in all of these areas, what should we do?

It’s Not What You Know…

Well, as the old adage states; “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  And in this example, that phrase rings particularly true.  Obviously, we cannot be an expert in all of these areas.  But, I am quite confident that we can all do the next best thing, which is find an expert in all these areas.  Get to know an expert in all these areas.  Establish relationships with experts in…..well, I think you get the point.

Let me give you an example.  Believe it or not, I have in my circle of contacts an expert in all of the areas that I outlined above.  I have a computer expert, a car expert, and like I said, an expert in all the other areas.  Are they all my best friends that I hang out with every weekend?  Absolutely not.  But I maintain relationships with all of these people so that when I do need their advice or services, they are there for me.

And, I have a surprise for you.  I am not the most out-going person in the world. I don’t have a million friends, and most people that know me would probably consider me to be somewhat quiet and introverted.  So it’s not like you need some sort of bubbly, outgoing, vivacious personality to accomplish this.

How Do You Find Them?

What you do need to be able to do is to ask questions.  That’s all I did.  Ask questions.  I asked questions of my co-workers, my friends, and my family.  I also asked questions of people I go to church with, people I see at the park when I am there with my son, and other people that I see when I am out and about to see if they know any people in these areas.  And some way or another, I was able to find these experts. 

Of course, when I do see these people, do I immediately start the conversation off with “Hey, do you know somebody that works on cars?”  Again, no.  I simply kept it in the back of my mind at all times that whenever a particular topic of conversation came around, I would always throw it out there that I was looking for that particular “guy.”  I was looking for a computer “guy,” a real estate “guy,” or an accounting “guy.”

Also, once you’ve found these experts, in order to keep from seeming like a “leech” so to speak, where you are doing nothing more than sucking up the free information and services of others, you do have to offer up a little in return.  While it is true that no one is an expert in all the areas listed at the beginning, I think we are all an expert in one area or another.  Therefore, you have to find a way to work this into the conversation whenever you’re speaking with one of your experts.  Of course, this is above and beyond whatever fee you have to pay for the services they render (often these fees will be discounted or free since they know you personally).

Have I Found Them All?

So you might be wondering if I have all the experts in my life that I need.  Absolutely not.  Currently, I am looking for a carpet “guy” and a painting “guy.”  Am I going to paint my house or carpet my floors next week?  No, not at all.  But I know that these projects will eventually be coming into my life and when I am ready to pull the trigger on them, I want to have a phone number ready to be able to call. It is a very subtle talent, but one that is easy to acquire.    And if you have enough of them in your life, you may be able to completely eliminate the need to ever call up the services of a “professional,” where the prices and/or fees are sure to be significantly higher. 

Everyone in your life knows people.  Just always be on the lookout for these “guys” (or gals!).   Once you do that, I think you’ll find that soon you will have a circle of contacts that is filled with more experts than you’ll ever need.

(photo credit: dongkwan)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • http://hackmylife.typepad.com/blog/2010/05/found-money.html Rex @ Hack My Life

    Freely offering your services as a “Guy” of some sort will quickly allow you to meet other “Guys” who can help you out. Your friends and family are often very willing to open up their network and call on favors for you when you have helped them out already.

    -Rex

    • David Bakke

      Rex,

      It really builds on itself. Once you put your own “guy” services out there, you’ll find a whole new world of “guys”!

      Thanks

  • http://www.edhardysaleonline.com ed hardy

    I support your point,great,thanks a lot.

  • David

    Ed,

    Thank you very much!

  • http://www.pfsdebtrelief.com Stephan

    not sure if i agree with your point, that you basically just get into a “friendship” with these people so that you can get their advice. what skill can you give in return? i dunno, this doesnt seem like something i would do. if anything, its not hard to learn how to install a carpet or paint a room, so it shouldnt take very long to read a book about these subjects and attack the project yourself.

    • http://www.howisavemoney.net Lulu

      I don’t think the writer meant to say that you just look for people who can do things for you and pretend to be their friend. But you do need to look for people that you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with especially if it is something that you cannot or do not want to do.

      It is simple to vacuum the carpet but I absolutely HATE to do it. In college I had a friend of a friend who loved cake…so I would bake him a cake and he would vacuum my entire apartment. We were not close friends, we did not hang out unless the other person was around…but I maintained that relationship nevertheless.

      I had a guy in college constantly asking me for a ride to the grocery store…so I would lend him the keys and have him wash the car when he got done with the groceries. We both got what we wanted.

    • David Bakke

      Stephan,

      I appreciate your words, but I wasn’t advocating developing “fake” friendships. I was trying to say that you can develop “mutually beneficial” relationships with people that will make both person’s lives easier.

      But I always appreciate everyone’s opinion.

  • http://www.howisavemoney.net Lulu

    My best friend is a computer expert so I am very grateful for that. In return I am the coupon and budgeting ‘expert’ (at least compared to him) and give him toothpaste, body wash and other items like that since he simply cannot be bothered to cut coupons. I also give him books to read and cook for him sometimes…it is not a direct trade off off goods for value but our friendship works!!!!!

    • David Bakke

      Lulu

      Having a computer expert in your world is huge!

      Mine has saved me untold amounts of money over the years.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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