How Can You Budget Your Money If You Can’t Budget Your Time?

By on April 16, 2018

Do you always seem to be playing catch up? Do you end your day with a longer list of things to-do than you started? Are you stressed about how you spend your time?

If you’re like most Americans, you may not be spending your time wisely. Time, like money, is a limited resource; once it is gone, you cannot get it. If you spend your time carelessly, you may not see the quality return on your investment you would like or you could simply be wasting it. Or, you may just need to brush up on your time management skills to budget and save for more time for special goals and important activities.

If you are looking for ways to be more productive with time, here are some steps you can take to help take back control of your clock.

Time is Money, so Budget and Spend it Wisely

Approach time the same way you approach money — examine your have-to’s, want-to’s and how much you have to distribute between them. Just as you account for your income on a household budget, try starting by calculating the time you have, then divvy it up according to your responsibilities and priorities.

The Time Budget

You might have an annual or monthly budget for spending your money, but here are four steps to help you create a time budget for effectively managing each precious moment:

  1. Determine How Much Time To Budget: Add up the total number of hours in a day or week — ok, 24 or 168 — but don’t forget that you sleep 6-8 hours a night, so you are left with 16-18 waking hours in a day or 112-126 hours a week. Now you can see how those 2 extra hours of sleep make a 14 hour difference in how much time you have to spend achieving goals while you’re awake.
  2. Set Some Goals: Make a list of the activities you need to complete (i.e. going to work, doctors appointments, getting the kids ready for school, making dinner, attending to bills, doing exercise, etc.). Then make a list of activities you want to accomplish, such as hemming your new pants, fixing the garbage disposal, brushing up on financial news and stock market trends, organizing your closet or improving your golf game.
  3. Set Priorities: Organize your activities according to importance and estimated time commitment. Ensure your necessary tasks (such as going to work) are given priority each day, then divvy up your spare time to pursue desired interests.
  4. Make Adjustments: If there is not enough time to get to each of your activities, you have four choices:
    1. Steal time from another activity.
    2. Streamline activities so they may be more efficient and take less time.
    3. Delegate a task(s) to someone your trust.
    4. Cut the activity; sometimes there just isn’t enough time and our ‘want-to’s’ must be sacrificed.

Adjusting Your Time Budget

If you constantly feel overwhelmed and stressed out, it’s likely you have too much on your plate. You are only one person working within a limited amount of time. In order to achieve our short and long-term goals, we need to swap, improve or otherwise cut tasks.

We often steal time from other activities (particularly sleep) without even realizing it; things come up and sometimes we have no choice but to steal time. When you do find yourself compelled to steal time, just be sure you are proactive in determining where the time comes from. Stealing time from other essential tasks could create a ‘domino effect’ that leave you in a ‘time debt’ without enough time for even the ‘have-to’s’ on your list.

You will have to steal less time from other areas if you can figure out how to streamline things so they can be completed quicker and cheaper. Streamlining may mean updating your computer so you can use online-banking or delegating tasks to others with more time or better skills. Ask the kids to set the table and do dishes so you have time to concentrate on answering emails while dinner cooks, or hand your taxes over to your financial advisor whose expertise can ensure your paperwork is ready in hours instead of days.

If you can’t find a way to redistribute your time or work together to share the load it might be time to simply let go of some of your commitments. If they were truly important, you would find the time; so if you’re not going to make room in your time budget for writing that Pulitzer Prize winning novel, perhaps it’s time to drop it from the list.

6 Ways to Save Time

Since there is no way to add more hours to the clock — don’t lie, you’ve thought about it — we need to spend our time wisely. Here are six minor adjustments you can make to save more time for putting towards more important matters:

  1. Cut back on what you own
    Many possessions cost more than what you paid, they also require time for use and money for maintenance. Adopting a simpler lifestyle with less gadgets to clean, fix or replace may open up more time for other tasks, as well as free you from the pressure of working overtime to afford those gadgets.
  2. Eliminate major time wasters
    Start by cutting back on television, but don’t forget about the time you waste mindlessly surfing the internet or checking social networks on your mobile device(s). The five minutes you put the phone down now, is five minutes you could be checking off ‘spend time with the kids’ from your to-do-list.
  3. Keep a detailed time log
    You already track every penny you spend for your household budget, the same goes for your time. Write down what you do and for how long so you can visually see any patterns in the way you spend or control your time.
  4. Consolidate your errands
    If you make several trips in the car to run errands you are wasting time, gas and money. With a little planning you may find you can do all of your errands in one day or tackle a number of them in one trip instead of several.
  5. Don’t save all of your chores for the weekend
    Some tasks can be done while you are front of the TV or computer. A few minutes dedicated to doing laundry between dinner and dessert or vacuuming during your favorite prime time show will save more of your weekend for relaxing and having fun.
  6. Learn to say “No”
    Not every request for your time is worthy. It is good to help others who need you, just not to the point you don’t have enough time for yourself; you wouldn’t give away all your money leaving yourself homeless and unable to help anyone else, would you? Your time is valuable, it’s okay to be a bit choosier about what you spend it on. Learning to say “No” will ensure you spend time on your terms.

Time is a precious commodity. No that you have learned to budget your time, it is time to make room in your schedule for gaining knowledge to help organize and managing your personal finances. Use your time wisely so you not only have the financial safety net you NEED, but the lifestyle you want.

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About Terri A. Kamoto

Senior writer for FSN - Terri is a former financial analyst dedicated to making personal finances, budgeting, investment and insurance advice accessible, up to date and easy to understand. It is hard to find professional advice written in a language someone without a financial background can understand. Terri helps companies synthesize industry lingo and expertise into clear and informative content which builds smarter, financially successful individuals. You can find Terri on !

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