Do you ever feel like you're doing too much? Do you ever have problems with saying no, whether at work or in your personal life? Do you always seem to have more tasks to complete than you have time to complete those tasks? Well you're not alone! In most cases saying no is much easier once you consider the eventual juggling act you may need to perform in order to satisfy all the yeses.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown, as its tag states, is about The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. McKeown outlines the importance of not only saying no, but saying yes to the right things, and regaining control of how you use your time.
How does this relate to My Finances?
Following many of the principles McKeown speaks about in his book can help you immensely in both your work and personal life. Personal Finance wise, saying yes to unnecessary activities can increase your spending, and potentially put you over your budget. If you don't have a budget, you may not even realize how some of your unnecessary activities may add up. Things like going out to dinner multiple times per week, or buying lunch every day at work can add up quickly. At one point, after tracking my spending with apps like Personal Capital and Mint, I noticed that I was spending $200 a month EASILY just on LUNCH! Spending $10 a day eating out is not hard at all, and that's not counting any additional money spent on food at home or for breakfast/dinner away from home. Now eating is of course a necessary activity, don't get me wrong! The unnecessary part comes when you planned not to eat out, then a coworker or a friend comes to you and says "Hey, lets go out to..." and you immediately say yes! You either A: Didn't take time to think about whether you should go or not, or B: Didn't want to say NO due to some form of social pressure. Most people will respect you saying no, in general, especially if your reason for saying no is to stick to your budget!
Saying yes can spread you thin!
Saying yes can take time away from important activities, by filling up your time (or budget!) with additional commitments. It's not all about saying no! It's about making your YES count!
In fact, this is very important when investing your hard earned money, as well as time. When deciding on stocks to invest in, there are thousands to choose from. You can't invest in everything, as you will surely spread your money thin. It will also cost you a lot of money in fees to make multiple purchases, attempting to chase the next hot stock. Have a plan, like the Share Repurchase Newsletter, and stick to it! Not every stock, plan, etc...is worth you spending your time and money on. Be selective. Chose wisely. Execute!
From time to time you will need to take inventory on your time and money. If you feel that you are spreading yourself thin with the many activities, tasks, distractions, and commitments, take the time to really determine what the important few are. McKeown calls this "Determining the Essential few from theTrivial Many". Getting back to finances, think about all of the bills you currently pay each month. Specifically, bills that you are continuously spending money on that you don't use, or minimally use. How many cable channels do you really watch on the plan that you have? Do you really need cable? How about that gym membership you started as a New Years Resolution? Are you still going to the gym on a regular basis? If not, it looks like a good time to uncommit these funds so that you can reallocate them to areas that are more important (like paying off debt).
Instead of looking at all of your bills and attempting to decide which ones to keep, reverse pilot your bills. Don't create your budget based on what you are currently paying, but start over with a new budget. Go one bill at a time to determine which bills are most "essential". If you get to a point where your bills are more than your income...STOP. Cut off any bills that you have not included already, and/or determine which bills you did include, which can be excluded. There may be some bills that you can trim back on, downgrade, or easily cut out. Do you really need 200 cable channels? Do you really need cable at all? The average cable bill is $103 a month according to Leichtman Research Group. What else could you do with that money? What else could you do with the time spent watching the few channels that you do watch?
Below is a rough view of what many of our budgets include. You have:
Basic Living: Food (at home), shelter including electricity/water (or gas), clothing, savings.
Millennial Basics: Debt (student loans), phone/internet.
Once you get past these, it's honestly a personal choice as to what matters the most to you, and geographical norms. Here are a few typical bills many Americans choose to have.
Geographical Norms: Transportation (car? bus/train? bike?), type of clothing
ENTERTAINMENT/Activities: Cable, streaming subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu), going out to movies, going out to eat, magazine/newspaper subscriptions. Subscriptions add up fast, as we see them as "just" $5 or $10 or even $20 here and there.
All in all. Essentialism is a great read for anyone who has a hard time saying no, or feels they do not have enough control over their own time. So the next time you're asked to take on another assignment or get invited to another event/dinner, be sure to take some time to think about your current commitments and goals before answering. One statement I use often to make others think about how their time is used, is what lead me to want to read this book.
If you don't take control your time, someone else will.
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Akeem The Dream
I enjoy discussing and learning about technology, stocks, sports, and beating my wife at Dominoes! As I learn, I love to share with family and friends so that we can share our knowledge. Thanks for being apart of the journey!