One of the common complaints of the non-financially sound is that there simply isn’t enough time to keep up with finances. It is true that none of us want to spend our whole life working as an accountant for our own personal finances. Instead, we would rather get out and live life.
Our Time Is Spent Doing Things That Are Important To Us.
Perhaps the first step is to ask the question – how does spending time on my finances improve my life? If the time you devote to managing your finances is a meaningless activity, then it should be ignored.
Consider a lady who works 40 hours a week. She ignores her finances because she wants time for fun. Because she doesn’t spend time budgeting, she doesn’t realize that she is overspending with her credit card each month. Before long, she has some serious credit card debt problems and has no idea how to get out. And she still doesn’t have time to deal with it because she is now working a second part time job to help keep up with all the payments. Her fun evenings are now spent responding to debt collectors and deciding if she can afford to keep the car.
Should this lady make time for her finances? Would spending time on her finances improve the quality of life?
While this is an extreme example, the lesson is that many people would be well served spending time managing what they already have, not just working to get more to cover their inability to manage their finances. If a stitch in time saves nine, then a managed dollar today saves nine unmanaged dollars tomorrow.
How to Make Time to Deal With Your Finances
1. Schedule an evening, a day, or a weekend (depending on the seriousness) to get things under control.
The only way to deal with a big financial problem is by doing something drastic. If you’ve neglected your finances for months, an hour is not going to cut it. The only way to get out of the deep mess you’ve created is by consulting your calendar and setting aside a chunk of time to tackle everything. Some couples find they even need to take a financial weekend to catch up on all the money tasks they have neglected.
2. Plan one 20 minute block each week to keep up with small financial tasks.
Once you’ve scheduled a time to get caught up, you need to schedule a regular reoccurring appointment to maintain your finances. For my wife and I, that time is right after the kids go to bed on either Sunday or Tuesday night. We’ve left a little bit of flexibility, but if we ignore those small weekly tasks, we never get the motivation to tackle things when they get worse. Consistency is the key.
3. Automate savings and investments.
Everyone has their opinion about automation, but if a lack of time is your common excuse, then automation is the solution.
We automate savings and investing, but do all our bill paying manually. The danger of automation is that you can disconnect with your money. In that case, choose to disconnect from things that help your finances and maintain constant contact with things that might hinder your financial health.
4. Consistently remind yourself of the value of healthy finances.
In our case, we have three kids ages five and under at home. When we have a moment alone, the last thing we want to do is crunch numbers. Yet, we make (as best as possible) time to manage our finances and keep our budget so we can continue to afford for my wife to stay at home.
Maintaining a budget and tracking our finances is not an end in itself, but it is a tool that helps us pursue our life dreams.
What do you do that helps you make time to deal with your finances?
Photo by Photo by ASurroca.