Two of the biggest complaints we moms make as we go about our busy lives is that we don’t have enough time to do everything and we don’t have enough money to pay for everything. I believe most of our stress is a daily build-up of these two things lacking. When something big hits like a relational difficulty or a health issue, the stress escalates even more.
While some things are out of our control, time and money are largely dependent on one thing. You already know the answer, and so do I:
Whether we are budgeting time or money, we must live beneath our means.
Easier said than done, right?
When it comes to blending the different elements of our lives, these two areas are crucial to a peaceful life. I’m not much of a math student, but I can do the basics of addition and subtraction. These two operations will go a long way towards improving our stress due to a lack of time or money.
1. Add income; Eliminate expenses.
This is not some new revelation. Unless someone leaves us a large inheritance, these are really the only two ways to improve our money situations. You may be able to improve a lack of money by using one or the other, but a combination of both will certainly accelerate the process. If you are trying to pay off debt or save for a large purchase, it will almost certainly be necessary to do both.
While specific tips on how to do this would be a whole other series of posts from someone much more qualified than I am, I can suggest a few areas to consider. Your food and household budget can be greatly reduced by making simple things from scratch, not defaulting to convenience unless it really pays off and just refusing to buy some things. Utilities and insurance costs can often be adjusted down by doing some research. Most of us have some “leaks” we could plug up in our spending.
As for adding income, find things you love to do or do anyway and find a way and an audience to which to market them. Sell things you don’t need. Do your best work and constantly seek to improve in the places you are already making an income. Find a need and fill it with excellence. And don’t forget the old maxim, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
2. Add patience; Eliminate false starts.
Other news that isn’t really news is that improving a money situation will not be an overnight fix. It will be a gradual process over months or years. Be prepared for the long haul and stick with it. Look back to see the progress you have made no matter how incremental. Keep your eye on the goal ahead and just. keep. walking.
3. Add simplicity; Eliminate spinning your wheels.
Getting bogged down in a lot of complicated details will only slow you down. Make a simple budget with a few basic categories and stick to it. Ditch the online spreadsheet (unless it’s working well for you!) and get out an old notebook or use a basic app on your phone. If coupons take up too much effort and time, buy cheaper brands or skip some of those packaged items altogether.
1. Add margin; Eliminate the hurry.
When you have children, very little goes according to plan. Diaper blowouts, skinned knees and last minute skirmishes threaten any mom’s schedule. I find that I am late more often than I want to acknowledge.
Almost every time we arrive late to an event, we can trace it back to not leaving enough margin. Sometimes that is beyond our control, like when my husband works late and we have somewhere to be in the evening. However, sometimes it’s just because I tried to fit in one more thing that could have waited until later. Leaving an extra margin of time eliminates having to rush from one thing to another and enables us to better enjoy life.
2. Add convenience; Eliminate the non-essential.
This is a delicate balance especially since we’re considering time and money. However, I have found some conveniences to be wonderful for saving time.
Using paper plates for breakfast and lunch is a minimal cost for the time it saves me. Allowing the children to put away their own clean laundry in bins instead of folding it perfectly in their separate drawers also saves me much time. Reusing towels saves me an hour or two in the laundry room each week.
Some non-essentials at this stage of my life are frequent dusting of my baseboards, attending most social events and shopping just for the fun of it. If it’s not something that significantly contributes to the quality of our lives, we try to do without it.
The Simple How-To
Like I said earlier, we must live beneath our means in both time and money. All of us only have the income we make and 24 hours in each day. Spending more of either one will affect our financial and physical health and cost much more in the long run.
Today, let’s seriously evaluate both. Then make a plan. Call it a budget or a spending plan; a routine or a schedule. Making a simple plan is not a restraint but a freedom from much stress and worry.