How to Make Time to Deal With Your Finances

Make time for your finances

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.

However, statements like “I don’t have time to make a budget” or “I don’t have time to learn to invest” are simply misleading at best and a lie at worst.

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.

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3 Comments
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  1. Marlive

    Craig, your article is SUPERB!

    And I must confess that I too would lie and say – I don’t have time to make a budget” or “I don’t have time to learn to invest!” Notice I say, I “would lie” above about making a budget. It all boiled down to me admitting that anything that I really wanted to do, I “made” time to do it. So if I really wanted to turn my financial situation around I needed to not only take my financial burdens to God in prayer and ask for forgiveness for not being a good steward over what He had blessed me with, I had to become proactive about my financial big picture too. This change in my financial behavior did not happen overnight, but I’m happy that my financial journey, with God’s help, is so much better than it use to be and it seems to get better everyday that I stay abreast of what is going on with finances regularly. I also automate savings, investments, and few bills such as my auto and long term health care insurance. But paying bills manually helps me stay connected with my spending and financial situation regularly. Again, thanks for a great post!

  2. Just this summer we did exactly as you suggested- took the time to really look at things and do some intense number crunching. We used to be a family who wondered “Where did the money go?” but planning ahead of time where each dollar goes before the month begins and STICKING TO THE BUDGET has changed our lives. It’s great that my husband is on board with me as well, because we hold each other accountable and slip-ups are very few and far between. :)

  3. Good article. I totally agree that a periodic timeframe is needed. Personally, I’m trying to get back to monthly planning and paying schedule. Anything more than that feels like I’m giving my finances way too much time in my life and mind. I like a cash envelope system for spending money and other expenses that come up during the month.

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