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Three Facts of Life That Can Help You Manage Your Time and Budget.

by:
Jillian Rodrigues

Time and money management are astonishingly similar. At least that’s what I’ve come to think. Here are three universal facts of life that will hopefully help you manage your time and/or your money more efficiently, and will help when creating a balanced schedule or making a budget.

Fact #1: It’s impossible to “have it all”. In a world of social media, we see posts from our friends and family depicting their wonderful vacations, their perfect jobs, and of course their kids who are exceptionally brilliant. While being the perfect parents, these people still somehow find time to do yoga, have drinks with their friends every week, and volunteer at the local animal shelter. As a result, our ideas of how our loved ones and not-so-loved acquaintances are living have become more distorted than ever. The truth is no one has the time or money to do everything he or she wants to do. People who seem to have it all are just very good at prioritizing. They create personal schedules and budgets that allow for the hobbies, relationships, goals and values that are important to them, and make everything else wait until there is any time or money left over. If one enjoys travelling for example, he or she may choose to live in an apartment or house that is much smaller than his or her income would allow, so that frequent vacations are affordable.

We may not see the sacrifices that these people make to afford the things they enjoy. They may not even see them as sacrifices because they are not things they care for. However if you truly took a deep look into these people’s lives, most of them do not “have it all”. They just have the things that are important to them. Once you take some time to figure out what’s important to you, it is easier to make budget that works. The problem is sometimes we try to do it all. We think ”Mary takes her daughter to dance classes once a week so I should be able do the same” or “Bob and I went to school together and have similar jobs, so I should have a house as big as his.” It’s impossible to keep up with everyone we know. It’s natural to feel a bit sad or jealous if we can’t afford something our sibling has, or make time to play on the same sports team our friend plays on. But it’s important to remember that we all have different lives, and you need to focus on whatever your priorities and goals are at the time, whether it be repaying your debt, earning a degree or getting more sleep. If you don’t have the time or money for all of your interests, that’s okay.

Fact #2: Sometimes you need to make that cut! Similar to the point above, sometimes you just need to cut certain things out of your life. A lot of times when we make a  budget, we never want to take anything out that we are used to having. We think that we can just rearrange things over and over until they all fit. As a result we end up coming up short, and something that was actually meant to be a priority ends up being sacrificed. We run on too little sleep because we are trying to make time for everyone and everything during the day. We ignore our debt because we don’t want to say no to the other things we “need” that month. If this becomes a regular routine, you may be doing damage to your long-term well-being and actually moving away from your goals. Sometimes the only realistic way to make your budget work is to temporarily (or permanently) give up that one thing you love but don’t really need. That one thing that seems to use up so many of your already limited resources. That one thing that you always say “I will find the time/money for this somehow”. This could be a bad habit, a luxury item, an oversized dwelling, or even just a hobby. And although this may be a last resort, sometimes you need to sit back and ask if it’s really worth it. If it is, then continue going down your list of activities or expenses until you find a change that you can live with. But sometimes you just need to have less to fit into your schedule or budget to make it all work.

Fact #3: There is much joy in flexibility! When you get used to always living your life in chaos for so long, you eventually just come to accept it. Once you accept this way of life, your motivation to make any changes diminishes. Picture this...your car breaks down and needs a major repair. You don’t panic because you know that the money you’ve put into savings for the last four months will actually be enough to cover it. Imagine your friend calls and urgently needs you to come over and help with something on a weeknight. Again, no sweat because you can move a few things in your schedule to make time. You don’t need to sit at home doing nothing. A lot of people actually prefer to have a busy schedule. But there’s a difference between being active and being overwhelmed.

When our resources such as time and money are not always pushed to the limit, it is much easier to deal with life’s curve balls. This may seem like an impossible dream, but think back to point #2. Think about those time-consuming activities or high expenses you hang on to that you don’t really need, but are afraid to live life without. Imagine if cutting back on one of those things could give you the wiggle room you needed to deal with life’s unexpected situations. Would it be worth it then? I believe it is better to make these changes in your life that allow you to stay within your monthly budget or follow a regular schedule while you still have the choice. Save some money, repay your debt and make time for your loved ones and your health while you still can, before things get worse and life forces you to make these changes.

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