Today’s post is part of the “Family Financial Guidelines” series. Whether you’re going through a financial turnaround or are just wanting to stay on top of things, this series will give you the tools to get and keep your family’s finances on track.
We all know that money is one of the most important aspects of personal finance. You have to have money coming in to keep the household running, and you have to manage that money well to keep things running smoothly. But today’s post doesn’t have anything to do with money (at least not directly). Besides money, what is the thing we all wish we had more of? I suppose there could be a variety of answers to that question, but the one I was thinking of was time.
There Never Seems To Be Enough Time
We all wish there was more than 24 hours in a day. Some days it seems like there just isn’t enough time to get everything done. By the time you get home from work, have dinner, clean up after dinner, play with the kids (or dog, cat, etc.), and get random things done around the house, it’s already practically time for bed. Since the number of available hours aren’t going to change, it is up to us to figure out how to use those hours more effectively. In a nutshell, we need to stop wasting time.
Track Your Downtime
Here is an exercise for you: For the next three days try and keep track of how you spend your time. I think most of us would be surprised at just how much time we spend on very unimportant things. Surveys indicate that the average American watches more than four hours of television a day. Even if you only watch half that amount (two hours), that is a lot of time. There are a lot of things like this. For example, how much time to you spend each day on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.? Now I completely understand the need for some “downtime” after work or in the evening to relax from a long workday or from watching the kids all day. But I think a lot of us would be surprised at just how much “downtime” we are really using.
Get More Done
I know that personally I feel better when I’m doing something constructive, whether it’s paying the bills, putting dishes away from the dishwasher, or helping my wife fold laundry. To a certain extent, this kind of serves as my downtime. It doesn’t take much thought to empty a dishwasher or fold laundry, so I can do these things and just let my mind wander, which achieves much the same thing as watching TV. Now, I know we’re not robots and can’t always be productive all the time. We need time to sit down and relax. But you’d be amazed at how much more you can get done if you cut down on the not-so-important things.
The Financial Impact
And while wasting less time doesn’t directly improve your finances, it does help in indirect ways. By wasting less time and getting more done, your overall stress level will be lower. Maybe not a lot lower, but somewhat lower. After all, it’s a good feeling to get things done. Maybe you can go to bed earlier now that you’re getting the household chores done earlier. This can help make you more alert and effective the next day at work. And maybe you can spend some of the time you were watching TV learning a new skill, increasing your marketability. The point is that we only have 24 hours. Make the most of them.