The 4-banger is dead.

My prediction: by 2022 there will be an inexpensive electric car on the market that will travel 500 miles per charge. When this happens the traditional 4 cylinder commuter car will slowly go extinct.

The 2017 Chevy Bolt pictured above is one of the first fully electric cars in the $30,000 price range with over 230 miles in full electric range. There have been other electric cars on the market like the Nissan Leaf, but the 100 mile range on the Leaf is too limited for buyers who have a longer daily commute.

I drive a 2013 Chevy Volt, which has 38 miles of electric range before a gas generator kicks in to power the drive motor. I’m still getting over 100 miles per gallon on days when I drive less than 45 miles. My Volt is FOUR TIMES more efficient than the Toyota Avalon it replaced.

In electric mode my Volt is smoother, quieter and MUCH faster than any 4 cylinder car I’ve ever driven. Driving an electric car is similar to driving a very refined Lexus V-6, if Lexus was able to totally eliminate engine noise.

Occasionally I have to drive my daughter’s 4 cylinder Honda Accord, the Accord feels like a dinosaur of old technology compared to my Volt.

An electric car with a 500 mile range, priced like a Civic or a Corolla, will dominate the commuter car market. In 2 car households they might keep the SUV or the minivan as the 2nd vehicle, but the spouse with the longer commute will love the improved driving dynamic and low fuel costs of the 2022 electric car.

It costs about $30 per month to charge your electric car at home, even cheaper if that homeowner installs a small solar array on the roof.

Check this out:

Gas stations will slowly go out of business, so will national chains like Jiffy Lube. No need for an oil change in a car with an electric motor. Electric cars require much less maintenance, and last far longer. Gas powered cars are crammed with complex parts; radiators, exhaust systems, oil pumps and alternators fail on a regular basis. Electric cars don’t need any of these components. There are no drive belts that need to be replaced… and less brake wear because regen brakes slow the car more than the brake pads.

Even if gasoline stays below $3 per gallon it can’t compete with cheap electric rates, which are the equivalent of about 40 CENTS per gallon. Once we have electric cars that can go 400 or 500 miles per charge it will seem silly to buy a noisy and expensive gas powered vehicle.

If the electric company decides to jack up electric rates the consumer can install solar to offset the increase.

Your roof will replace your gas station.

Ben Alexander

May . 2017

Flooded Beach homes.

Here is a chart on the rise of sea levels since 1993:

Here is a chart detailing the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1980:

I’ve been selling residential solar in zip code 33703, a community just east of St. Petersburg with many expensive homes that sit along the Tampa Bay waterfront.

Some of the well-heeled folks who live in that area are retired, others are still working as corporate executives, lawyers and successful business owners. Many of the long term residents of 33703 have observed more flooding in their zip code over the last 5 years, especially when Tampa Bay is at high tide.

There are some voters on the right who don’t believe that global warming is the result of rising CO2 levels, they’ll tell you that this is the “natural cycle of things”. In others words, correlation of the 2 charts above is not causation…

There are many factors that will reduce CO2 emissions over the next 30 years; widespread solar, more hybrid and plug in electrical vehicles, more offshore wind turbines, etc.

I hope that the wealthy executives who own beach homes will start to pour some investment into technologies that will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Or they all might move to the mountains as the entire Floridian peninsula becomes a huge underwater coral reef.

One simple solution is to desalinate water and grow forests in the desert areas adjacent to our oceans. Every time you grow a tree you naturally sequester a huge amount of carbon dioxide.

You can desalinate water using solar power, and there are many places where the desert meets the ocean (Mexico, Africa, etc.) With the right technology and capital investment you can make the desert bloom, look what they did in Israel:

http://www.oired.vt.edu/compass/desert-bloom-incredible-story-agriculture-israel/

More plants = more carbon dioxide captured and used to grow food and create economic opportunity.

Just as the horse and buggy has become an icon of the past so will diesel trucks spewing exhaust and electric generation plants burning coal. By 2022 we’ll see inexpensive electric cars on the market that get 500 miles per charge… and soon after that gas powered cars will go away as well.

Ben Alexander

May . 2017

2 coffee mugs.

I was at a solar appointment yesterday and I came up with a little sales illustration that you might find interesting. Selling solar is really about education and clear communication. Most people think of solar as an added household expense, I was thinking of a novel way to show how solar really works.

I was sitting at a kitchen table in a nice home in the Sable Point subdivision in Wesley Chapel. There were two empty coffee mugs on the table so I turned them upside down  and took a wad of cash out of my pocket. I had filled a Balloon Distractions gig at a breakfast restaurant that morning, so I had a bunch of $1 and $5 bills.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Mr. and Mrs. Jones, let’s say that this coffee mug on the left is your home with solar on the roof. Every month your payment on the solar stays here”. I stacked a few dollars on the top of coffee mug on the left.

“The coffee mug on the right is your neighbor who doesn’t buy solar.” As I said that I took a dollar bill, crumpled it up in my hand and tossed it over my shoulder onto the floor. “Your neighbor without solar is sending cash to the electric company forever, they never see that money again, its gone, poof, wasted.”  

“This is your home,” (another dollar bill on the mug) “this is your neighbor” (another dollar bill tossed behind me).

“The money is going to have to go somewhere every month anyway, either back on your roof to pay off your solar, or leave your household forever when you send it to the electric company. You can either send $200 each month to the electric utility or $180 per month to pay for your panels.”  

After I had done this a few times the mug on the left was stacked with dollar bills, the mug on the right was empty. There were crumpled dollar bills all over the floor behind me.

“But what happens after your solar is paid for?” I started to take the dollar bills off the mug and stack them in front of Mrs. Jones “Every month your solar panels will generate electricity back into your house, for several decades. Solar is like a permanent money machine on your roof. How many dollars will come off your neighbor’s roof?”

Mrs. Jones asked me “but what if we sell the house?”

That’s a great question.” I stacked the dollar bills back onto the mug on the left. “Which home would you rather buy, the home with all the dollar bills on the roof and a tiny electric bill, or the home with NO solar and a $200 per month bill?”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This was my first appointment with Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Most of my clients move forward at the 2nd meeting, so I’ll circle back with them in a week or so. I ask people to buy on the first appointment, but I don’t twist anyone’s arm. That approach never works. I want my clients to feel confident about their purchase.

Some of the people I sit down with will buy now, some will buy in 3 months or six months or a year from now. Every month that they get an electric bill and sit down to write a check for $150 or $200 I hope they think of me.

I’m not going anywhere, neither is Tampa Bay Solar. The forward thinking consumer who buys solar is an educated buyer, the average household income of most solar buyers is between $100,000 and $150,000 per year. The price of solar is now LESS than utility electric:

There are some folks who don’t like the aesthetic of panels, so they can spend $100,000 on a solar roof through Tesla, or continue to throw money at the electric company for the next 30 years. The rest of us will put panels on the roof and watch our electric bill go down to peanuts every month.

Ben Alexander

May . 2017

Why 3 ventures?

I have 3 main sources of income in my life, this is how my wife and I have paid off $183,000 in debt since the beginning of 2014.

Some people might wonder if three businesses might be too much, so let me explain how it all developed and how it tends to work together.

Balloon Distractions was my first venture. I started it here in Tampa in the fall of 2003, it expanded into multiple regions soon after and actually peaked with 270 restaurant clients per week in 2011. BD is an ongoing source of income, we now have Regional Leaders in place around the country, the online scheduling and billing systems that we built allow me to spend 10-15 hours per week running that business. It earns a profit 7 days a week, the only 2 days we don’t fill bookings are Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Balloon Distractions is my base income, and the source of most of my debt pay off over the last 3 years.  A few times each year I get on the road and travel to our different regions to work with our Regional Leaders.

In 2014 I became a member of Life Leadership, a direct sales business that teaches leadership, debt freedom, marriage skills, business skills, etc. My income from LIFE varies from a car payment to a mortgage payment, but there are some months when my involvement is minimal. I attend the Tuesday night meetings and the monthly seminars. LIFE is flexible like that, you can build it when you have free time.

The LIFE training set me on the debt-free path, and I’ve learned a ton from that business. There is also the benefit of all the friendships I’ve gained in that community, from Atlanta to Orlando to right here in Tampa. Randy Crain worked with me in Balloon Distractions, and now I see him all the time at LIFE events. These are lifelong friendships, and there is a non-monetary value to that!

In 2017 I actively looked for a role in solar sales and quickly met up with Steve Rutherford and his team at Tampa Bay Solar. Steve allowed me to sell solar on my schedule at my pace. He also taught me a ton about that business and continues to do so.

I’m starting to gain some competency at selling residential solar, and I’m learning about commercial solar next. My first few months in this industry have allowed me to rapidly evaporate another $5,000 in debt that would NOT have been paid off unless I had taken this step. If I can make an extra $50 or $60K this year selling solar every cent will go towards the college fund for our girls and then towards paying off my home.

My first financial priority is to help BOTH of my daughters graduate from college DEBT FREE, and then pay off my home. I’ll be 47 years old (maybe 46).

Most people have a mortgage their entire lives. Not me, thanks to the LIFE training.

BD and LIFE have given me the income and the time flexibility to really take a deep dive into the solar business. Solar has massive potential here in sunny central Florida, I’m confident that I can land a bunch of residential and commercial jobs over the next few years, and this will get me debt free that much faster.

Ben T. Alexander

May . 2017

Dystopian Future?

BMW SOLARWATT

Recently I’ve been watching old episodes of the Twilight Zone on Netflix, as well as the more recent British series; Black Mirror. In both series future tech is weird and creepy, and in some cases truly horrific.

In contrast to a bleak vision of the future I’m an optimist. The picture above captures what the future can be; clean, efficient, beautiful even. That’s the new fully electric BMW, complete with electric charger and tastefully done solar. Nice set up there.

I don’t think the future is dark, but we KNOW that the past certainly was.

Where do I start?

Racism, pogroms, massive wars, systematic genocide, a filthy society when people didn’t bathe and everyone was racked with disease and lice. Just 150 years ago you were treated like an animal if you weren’t white, and even white women had no rights in society. If you were Native American, Black, Asian, etc… you were treated like dirt.

If you were female AND a minority? In the past you had very few chances to really succeed, not until recently. How many black women were multi-millionaires before Oprah? A few, I’m sure… but not that many.

The past was a dystopian society, and some parts of the world are still stuck in the past.

The future will be more fair, more clean, more progressive. Technology makes it harder for a government to murder their own people. It still happens (Syria, for instance) but the world will know about it in minutes because of smartphone cameras and social media.

Even in societies that are still mired in the past there are progressive elements that are helping people get more access to clean drinking water, birth control and education. I saw this firsthand while installing water filters in Honduras in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The future won’t be perfect, people will still act like jerks and do awful things, but technology will make them more accountable to their actions… especially when everyone has a high-res video camera in their pocket!

The future is bright folks.

Ben Alexander

May . 2017

1,000 solar clients.

In the next few years one of my goals is to help 1,000 clients go solar.

Most of these will be residential systems that help middle class homeowners slash their electric bill from $200 or $300 down to $10 or $15. When they pay off their panels their electric bill will stay low for decades, the panels we install today will produce energy for (at least) the next 60 or 70 years. SolarWorld panels lose half a percent per year in output. Twenty years from now our panels are still at 90%. That’s pretty good.

In 50 years our panels will still be at 75% power output. I’ll be 93 years old.    

Some of these 1,000 clients will be business owners who own a laundromat, a restaurant or a warehouse. If they have enough room on their roof we can take a $1,000 electric bill down to $10, the business owner will get a 30% tax credit plus accelerated depreciation on the cost of the system. Less energy costs forever, lower taxes for the next five years.

1,000 clients with solar means less coal and natural gas being burnt, less nuclear fuel that needs to be disposed of, less harmful pollution overall.

1,000 installs means more work for the Army / Navy / Marine veterans who work for Tampa Bay Solar, more work for the workers at the SolarWorld panel factory in Oregon, more work for the good people who make the inverters, optimizers, roof mounts and rail systems that we use in every install.

More solid American jobs, right here in our backyard. There are already over 250,000 people working in Green Tech here in the United States, 1,000 completed solar installs accelerates that job growth.  

1,000 clients gets us that much closer to a smarter electric grid that ties in electric cars, energy storage, utility electricity and rooftop solar. A smarter grid will manage multiple sources of energy so efficiently that blackouts and brownouts will be unheard of, a thing of the past.

Many of my 1,000 clients will be retired folks on a fixed income, for these folks solar on the roof NOW is a hedge against future inflation; they are buying panels at today’s prices because no one can predict how much Duke Energy or TECO will hike rates over the next decade!

For my younger clients with small children we know that the panels will be paid off before their kids are done elementary school, for these families they will save $2,000 to $3,000 per year in electricity costs, that money can be used for the kids’ college fund, or to pay off debt.

As more people start to buy plug-in electric cars they will be glad that they put solar on their homes and businesses. Instead of using Exxon Mobil to fuel up their cars they can now charge up at home or work, using the sun as a fuel source instead of gasoline.

In return for selling 1,000 solar installs I’ll make a decent income that will help me pay off my home, put both of my daughters through college, and help me build up some savings for retirement. I think that’s a fair trade for 100,000 doors knocked, 5,000 appointments kept and countless phone calls in between!

Ben Alexander

TampaBaySolar.com

May . 2017

$183K paid off.

I’ve been focused on paying off debt since 2014.

I’m not debt free YET, but so far we’ve paid off over $183,000 in mortage debt, car loans, credit cards and business loans. These pay offs came from my wife’s income as a realtor, in addition to my profits from Balloon Distractions, Life Leadership and my more recent sales work with Tampa Bay Solar.

You don’t need to go into debt to grow a business!

The Financial Fitness program sold by Life Leadership set me on this path, and I’m grateful for all the good folks in that community who encouraged me to “keep going”.

Big thanks especially to Randy Crain and Steve Duba for sharing the Life business with me back in early 2014. I had no idea I needed this program, but I’m glad they took the time to share it with me.

  

Stuff paid for on credit will not make you happy, and in the long run debt causes more stress, especially if you struggle to cover a bunch of payments each month. As I get older I’m more interested in having peace in my life. When college is paid for (for my daughters) and my home is paid off I’ll be a happy guy.

I run into folks who are 75 who still have a mortgage on their home. That’s insane. With some focus and discipline you can pay off your home in your 40’s, maybe even your 30’s with careful planning.

If you look at your mortgage balance and feel like you can’t pay it off (at your current income) you might want to consider that you’re living in too much home!

My goal (when I’m debt free) is to live on less than ONE THIRD of what I earn after taxes. This will give me the flexibility to live on my terms, without feeling the need to work like a dog just to meet my obligations.

If you want to learn more about the Financial Fitness program feel free to comment on this blog or reach out to me otherwise.

Thanks!

Ben Alexander

May . 2017