Can you relate to the title? Do you find yourself often running out of time or money? There is a principle we can use to manage both time and money.
Understanding why is the first step in solving lack of time or money issues. Let’s take lack of time as our first example. If I find that I am often short on time, I would take a look at the end of the day and find out what I have accomplished for that day. Did I take on too many activities? Or did the day just happen to be a busy one with too many appointments booked? Or perhaps I wasted too much time doing leisurely things like checking posts on Facebook, playing electronic games, or watching too much YouTube? I would be interested in doing a journal for a few days to give me an idea on what I did with my time.
Fast forward a few days or a few weeks. Now I can see what I did with my time in the last few weeks; I can understand why I am always short on time. If I have too many activities, my remedy may be to take on less activities, or to do the same number of activities in less amount of time. If I spend a lot of time driving my kids around, perhaps I should cut down on the number of activities. Maybe I could get my husband to take them or carpool with another parent and take turns. Or perhaps I can keep the same number of activities, but do it in places that are closer to my home.
My last step now is to implement what I have learned. So, if I am always short on time, and it’s because I have too many activities, then my next step might be to decide to cut down the number of activities. If I find that I am spending time on useless activities such as social media, perhaps I can set aside a dedicated time slot for social media instead of checking on it every few minutes throughout the day. Or I can have a task-based approach by avoiding electronics until I have finished one or more things on my to-do list.
What about Money?
My next question is, can apply the same principle to money management?
1. Understanding Why
If I find that I never have enough money, perhaps it is a good idea to keep a journal of my spending. Where did my money go? Did I happen to have a month with lots of unexpected expenses like a car repair, school fees, medical emergency, or a death in the family? Or, did I spend money frivolously? Or perhaps my income is not enough to support my choice of lifestyle?
By the way, speaking about unexpected expenses - are they really unexpected or did I instead fail to plan? For example, if my car is old, I know that eventually the car will need to be replaced. Am I saving money for that replacement or am I just waiting on the car to fail?
Going back to keeping a journal, from my experience, it is not enough to track expenses for a week or two, because you probably don’t have an accurate picture. I recommend that you track expenses for a few months, or, if possible, a year. Why? Because some expenses are seasonal such as Christmas, or back-to-school, so it is best to average them out over a year.
2. The Plan
Now, when I find out how I spent my money, then I can work on a plan to improve my money management. I can decrease my spending, increase my income, or do both. Without a starting point (my journal), I wouldn’t have a reference point. My goal is to do better than where I am now. I need to have a spending plan (or some people call it “a budget”). Every good business and organization should have a financial plan – to know their estimated income and expenses, and so should you. The expenses must be less than income. Without a spending plan, how would I know if I have overspent?
Now I have my spending plan, can I stick to it? If not, why not? Should I try cash method so I can visually see it when money is leaving my hand? Or perhaps I need to separate my finances into a savings account and a spending account? How about taking a concrete action plan? For example, if I know my weakness is in shopping, perhaps I can avoid going near a shopping area.
Time is a limited commodity. In a sense, money is limited too. You can save money to use it later, but you can’t save time. Everybody must use up 24 hours in a day. Tomorrow we all get new 24 hours again. If we say we save time, well then, what are we doing with the extra time saved? To manage our time/money wisely, we need to understand why we were short, make a plan to tackle it, and actually implement our plan. If our first plan and/or our first attempt does not work, try an alternate one. It will be a trial and error, continuous improvement until we get it right.
For more help with reducing your money-related stress, contact me at (six zero four) 728-5139 or Effie[at]PrudentMoneyCoach[dot]com. Take advantage of my free first assessment meeting to see if we are a good fit.