When you think about and develop your family budget, do you consider budgeting your time, too? Most of us think of budgets as strictly financial; but time is money, as the saying goes, and managing both money and time is a key to successful budgeting. Here are some tips on how you can include time management in your family budget.
Bill Paying Time
It’s a great idea to budget a certain amount of money toward bills; but consider budgeting in the time you’ll spend paying them, too. Whether you pay online or by check in the mail, you need to think through how long that typically takes you and note a time and day(s) each month where you do the paying. This helps you coordinate paychecks with bill paying, too.
Balance Your Checkbook
Ironically, many people neglect to balance their checkbooks because they don’t have time (or think they don’t have time). But if you don’t balance your checkbook monthly, you may end up with a hugely complicated mess that will takes hours or days to straighten out. If you balance it monthly, it’s a quick job to get it up to date each time.
It’s important not to get disillusioned with time management – time works a bit differently on paper than in reality! Make sure you allow for normal life things.
For instance, if your kids get off the school bus at 3pm, and you plan to run errands before dinner at 6pm, you don’t really have a full three hours to run errands. You need to account for the time it takes for your kids to come in, unload their books, change clothes if necessary, have a snack, and so forth. Then you need to be home by at least 5:30 to get dinner at 6. So in reality, you have about an hour to an hour and a half to run the actual errands. Recognizing this reality will help reduce frustration and ultimately make you more efficient.
There’s nothing wrong with socializing online, or watching TV or movies on occasion. But if you do these things on impulse and then feel guilty about them (“I really should be working right now…”), it can undermine your enjoyment of the leisure activity and ultimately decrease your productivity. Instead, schedule in your socializing and entertainment time. Then you can really enjoy it knowing you don’t need to be doing something else at that moment.
This isn’t just for your grocery budget. Planning meals means less time worrying about what to have for breakfast/lunch/dinner, and fewer trips to the grocery store. That frees up your mental and actual time.