You work at least 40 hours per week, possibly more. You likely spend an additional 15 hours or more commuting. As a result, you probably work more than you do anything else: more than you sleep, more than you cook & eat, more than you watch TV.
Your profession is a significant part of your identity, and also has tremendous impact on how you perceive your quality of life. At the same time, your work is likely a significant source of stress in your life and frequently leaves you feeling exhausted. You probably studied for at least four years, and paid tens of thousands of dollars to your university, in order to attain the degree that got you this job.
This is your life.
And you are compensated for all of this this time and effort with your pay.
So why then are there so many people that don’t give a shit about their money?
I understand that not everyone is a “numbers person”, feels exhausted by their debt or is intimidated by the stock market, but failing to learn how to make the most of your money is a disservice to yourself. Even worse than that, however, are the people that say they cannot be bothered to do even the simplest personal finance tasks: track their spending, create a budget, or find a way to reduce expenses.
Managing your money is as important as earning it.
How do you have 40 hours (or lets say 60 hours, when you include commuting to and from your job) per week devoted to earning your money, but can’t spare 1-2 hours per week to take care of it?
It takes all of 5 seconds to write down an expense in a notebook or enter it into an app on your phone when you’re out & about. It takes less than an hour once a month to figure out your budget and calculate your net worth. It only takes a few hours to file your own taxes or to read a book about investing. And yet, people make so many excuses for why they don’t spend a few minutes or an hour each week to manage their money — and then promptly watch tv for more than 3 hours per day.
You don’t lack time, you lack motivation.
What is the real reason you’re not doing what you should be doing when it comes to your finances? Chances are the likely culprit is pure laziness.
If the thought of tracking every penny that goes out of your bank account is making your head spin, I have a revolutionary idea that will make it infinitely easier: stop buying so much stuff so often.
When I was paying off my student loans, I refused to buy anything on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Why? Not only because it made sure I spent less money overall, but the less often I made purchases, the fewer transactions I had to keep track of. By only buying things 4 days per week, I only had to keep track of my spending 4 days per week. That meant 3 days per week I was free of the hassle of writing down everything I spent that day.
The second thing I did, and still do, is automate all my monthly bills to a single credit card, and then pay that off once a month. This meant I was never scrambling to find $100 for my cellphone and I never forgot to pay my utility bill. By automating all my regular bills the only thing left to track is my discretionary spending. Couple this with a few no-spend days per week, and the number of transactions you have to track is probably 5 or less per week. Don’t tell me you’re too busy for that.
But managing your money is more than simply tracking your expenses.
I remember not paying attention to my money. Coincidentally, those were also the years when I didn’t have any.
I used to think of money as this weird intangible thing. More often than not, it passed in and out of my bank account as only numbers changing on a screen. I never considered keeping any of it, or using it to earn more money. I only understood it as something that you received in exchange for working, but some jobs paid more than others. I knew some people got it for nothing, because they’re parents had plenty or they were lucky in some other way. Enough if it t could buy you pretty much anything, though what was “worth” its price-tag was wholly a matter of personal opinion. There seemed to be no consistency, no solid “facts” around money or what money is for.
Well, there is, and they go like this:
1) Your spending is a reflection of your values
2) Your debt is the result of your choices
3) Your income is wholly in your control
It’s hard to take responsibility for your money.
There probably a lot of things you don’t know want to know about your money. Like, for me, how much I clearly value Starbucks coffee over Starbucks stock, and how that may or may not be the most expensive mistake I’ve made in my lifetime (joking… sort of). Maybe your trips to the mall outweigh your retirement contributions. Maybe your subscription to HBO will force you to carry your student loan debts around an extra 3 years. Maybe your debts cost you a relationship, or kept you from moving to a new city. It’s ok to find things you don’t like when you take a hard look at your finances. Hopefully it inspires you to change them. Of course, you have to confront them first.
Because strange things happen when you start paying attention to your finances:
- you spend less money on stuff you don’t really want or need.
- you find ways to earn more money.
- you learn what costs you can reduce or cut out entirely.
- you pay your debt off faster, and pay less interest in the long run.
- your wealth grows faster, because you learn how to invest it wisely.
You work hard for your money.
40+ hours per week hard.
Nearly 1/3 of your waking hours hard.
Don’t tell me you’re ok with spending more than 1/3 of your time earning something you don’t want to take care of. That you don’t want to maximize the use of. That you don’t want to increase. Because I know you’re lying. The less you care about how you take care of your money once it hits your bank account, the harder you’re going to have to work to get it — and keep it.
If you want the ultimate shortcut to financial security it’s this: give a shit about your money. How you earn it, where you spend it, and what you can do to get more.