As I’ve thought more about the concept of budgeting and about why to budget and what budgeting can do for you, I’ve been struck by how many similarities can be drawn between budgeting and time management.
- Flexibility: Both have aspects of flexibility. If you need to study for an exam for 5 hours, you could break that into one hour blocks throughout the day, or one big 5 hour block at once, depending on what works for you. Likewise, if you have a $100 “fun” allowance per month, you could spend it all on one big thing, or split it up into a few smaller things, depending on what gives you more bang for your buck.
- Inflexibility: Just as some aspects of your day can’t be easily changed, certain aspects of your budget can’t be either. You may go to work at a certain time, or take lunch at a certain time dictated by your employer. If you make an appointment you’re expected to show up at the time specified. Likewise, your monthly bills are not as immediately flexible as other aspects of your budget. The amount you are paying to rent or a mortgage or utilities can be altered with change and effort, but cannot be immediately altered once your bill comes due. If you get a $50 electric bill, you’re expected to pay it.
- Easy to fritter away if you’re not paying attention: Time can slip through your fingers as easily as money if you don’t keep a watchful eye on it. Ten minutes watching TV turns into an hour, or two, and $5 on fast food turns into $15, or $20. Just about every time I go to Target I spend twice as much in twice as much time as I meant to when I walked in the door.
- Poor Time or Financial Management can be disastrous: If I don’t manage my time well, I can be late to things, miss things completely, not have time for the important things…. there are all sorts of consequences. Likewise, if I am a poor manager of my finances, well – you can end up like me! The bright side to that is there’s hope for all of us to improve.
- 24 hours a day, and whatever your earnings are: The biggest inflexible factor? There are 24 hours in a day, and most days, that holds true. You can play with what amount of time gets devoted to each activity, but the overall total stays the same. Likewise – you earn what you earn. The total amount you have to spend is limited by what you’ve earned in the past and haven’t spent yet. At least, if you live by the adage spend less than you earn.
But the great part to budgets vs time management – you can, in fact, make more money. No, it may not be easy. No, it may not be an instant change. But with hard work, determination, and exploring all the avenues open to you, income can be increased. The biggest stumbling block to any of our success is ourselves.