People come up with all kinds of excuses not to work on their finances, one of the most popular being lack of time. Yes, it takes time to do the things necessary to be successful with one’s personal finances, but is it really such a resource consuming activity? I wanted to prove, or debunk the notion that personal finances takes a lot of time and energy.
The first step is to list the activities needed to properly deal with your finances:
List Expenses and Income For A Full Month
You definitely have to do this before you can do much else with your finances, but it should be redone periodically as both expenses and income can fluctuate over time. My recommendation is to record the who, when, and how much of each monthly expense and stream of income. If it’s not the same each month (like utilities), use an average, or possibly even a worst case scenario.
Pick a Budget Cycle Length
Once you have laid out where all your expenses go out, and your income comes in, you should decide on a length for your budget cycle. Common lengths are a week, a pay period or a month. It may take some trial and error to figure out what length works best for you.
Make A Spending Plan
For each budget period, subtract the sum of your expenses and subtract them from the total of your income. This is the amount of funds available to your for your living expenses (such as gas and food) and discretionary funds. Make a plan as to what you’re going to do with your money, ensuring you stay within the funds available to you.
As you spend your money, record it somewhere. You could use a piece of paper, your phone, or a spreadsheet. You may eventually want to categorize your purchases, but for starters, just record every purchase so you have a full record of where your money went.
Before starting a new budget cycle, review the previous one. If you didn’t stick to your spending plan, determine why. Make any adjustments needed, then do it all again.
This may sound complicated, but it’s only the base foundation of building a personal finance machine to manage your money. So how much time does this all take? In the coming weeks, I’m going to be tracking how much time I spend performing these activities and report back to you, EOD Nation.
How long do you spend on your personal finances per week, or per month?