Too busy to manage your money?

Are you too busy to manage your money?  If yes, you are not alone.  I heard it from quite a lot of people, no matter of their background, income, education, etc.  Why is that?  Let’s tackle this issue today.

Though money is not the most important asset, it plays a big part in people’s lives.  Nobody can live without money.

Nowadays, it seems being busy is the trend.  If someone is not busy, he or she would worry about being left behind, and missing something big.

Where did our time go every day?

  • Work:

Yeah, job does take a lot of hours.  Everyone knows it.

  • Kids and their activities:

For parents, kids and their activities occupy a big chunk of their time.  If the parent is working, the first thing to do after work is probably something related to kids.  For the stay-at-home parents, no questions about it.

  • House related chores:

Chores are just what it sounds like.  We may not like them, but have to get it done.  Grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, yard work, house maintenance, on and on.

  • Other obligations, and leisure:

It could be like attending the weddings, joining the barbecue at friends’ places, watching TV or surfing the internet, or having a vacation.  They are fun (most of them), and all take the time.

  • Social media:

Social media is an insatiable beast, and time is never enough.  How many hours are you spending every day on the social media that is not work-related?

Considering the long list above, are we busy?  Yes, it looks so.  That’s why some keep saying: “I don’t have time to manage the money.”

Why is “Too busy to manage your money” an excuse?

In my eyes, managing the money should be treated as critical as having meals every day.

Nobody says: “Oh, I don’t have time to eat.”  Why?  In order to live, we got to eat.  It’s just that simple.  Meals are essential to our physical and mental health.  By default, eating is a top priority to everyone.

So is managing the money.  It’s the foundation of our financial health.

I feel that, time is probably just an excuse.  The source of the problem is not about time.

If someone could spend 1-2 hours on the social media every day, it means time is not the issue.  The question is if this person is willing to walk away from the smart phone, and spend that time to manage the money.

When the choice comes up, here is one hour:  do you want to use it to manage the money, or on the social media?  Many people would choose the latter.  Why?  Social media is fun and easy, while managing money is boring and hard.

Why so many people don’t like managing their money?

This is still something I don’t fully understand.  I love managing my money.  How much do I love it?  As much as I love fruits and vegetables.  I’m a big fan of fruits and vegetables, and can’t live a single day without either of them.

As a personal banker for 19 months, I saw many people treated managing money as a hot potato.  In terms of spending money, everyone knows how.  In front of the money, they become so shackled and clueless.  The money is long gone before they realize it.  They don’t know how to let money grow, and let it work for them.

Probably in some people’s eyes, money looks dirty.  But those glamorous things bought using money don’t look dirty at all, like flashy cars, TVs, etc.

Usually money is not a good topic.  In a family gathering, if you ask: “How do you manage your money?”  You’ll definitely be frowned upon.

Money is a secret, and this is the case across different cultures (in China and US for sure).  People tend to either avoid it, or simply sweep it under the rug.

In order to get over this money taboo, we got to talk about money openly and honestly, instead of whispering about it.  Have you ever seen the Suze Orman Show on CNBC?  Oh my God, that was the first time I heard someone talking about money that loud, and with that passion.

We do talk about food, and share recipes.  The same should be done about money.

People keep delaying managing the money.  They might say: “I’ll do it next week.”  But it never happens.  Why is that?  Because it’s delayable, in the short term.

It’s not like you’ll be darn hungry if missing one meal.  The sky is not to fall immediately if you don’t do anything about your 401K this month, or even this year.  But, it’s going to haunt you in the long run.  You’ll have to face the consequences of procrastination sooner or later.

Sometimes people tend to let money run in auto-pilot mode.  They hope the magic happens somehow, and money takes care of itself.  The truth is: money can’t take care of itself, and we have to intervene.  Ignoring the problem doesn’t mean the problem is gone, it’s still sitting there.

Other times, we count on others to take care of our own money.  It could be the spouse, partner, or a financial adviser.  Delegating may work, and may not.  Be careful.  No matter who is handling your money, you still need to be involved.  Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

In some families, one person manages the money 100%, and the other doesn’t bother to get involved.  I recommend both participate in the decision making of family finance, as it’s a joint matter.  Plus, anything bad could happen: divorce, sudden death, accidents, etc.

Don’t leave your loved ones in the dark, and don’t keep yourself in the dark either.  We hope for the best for life, but have to prepare for the worst.  Knowledge and hands-on are the key.

Quick Summary:

You worked so hard, and earned the money.  Managing your money is a top priority.  Find some time to learn it.  Anyone can do it.  That’s your money, and that’s your life.  Make sure you take care of it.  It matters a lot.

Here are the three related articles I like a lot:

Let’s discuss:  Are people really too busy to manage their money?  Why is it so hard for people to start managing their money?

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8 Responses

  1. Hi Helen. Thank you so much for the kind words and link to my article. You also included me with a couple of my best blogging buddies (Caroline and GYM). I admire those two ladies and you too for all you have accomplished in your own unique ways with your lives and finances!

    As it relates to your very fine post….I remember reading a long time ago in “The Millionaire Next Door” that people who were successful in accumulating wealth spent a good about of time managing their money. Budgeting, creating free cash flow and then investing it. It kind of makes sense. We get good at what we focus on.


    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Tom, I’m so glad to include the links of the 3 great articles. Each looked at money in a different angle, but the goals are similar: make sure money works the best for us.

      I heard about the book “The Millionaire Next Door”, and have not read it. Definitely I’ll read it this summer. Sounds like it has a lot of good points. It’s really true: “We get good at what we focus on”.

  2. Joe says:

    I think it’s hard because managing money feels boring when you’re starting out. It’s about balancing the book and making sure you don’t spend too much. That’s boring and not very inspiring. Managing your money becomes a lot more fun when your portfolio starts to grow. It takes time to get to that point, though.
    Just IMO.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Joe, very good point.

      Now I remember the time 20 years ago, when I started investing in the 401K. As you said, it was hard to begin with. During the first 5 years, the growth was hardly recognizable, as the base was really not that much. That was the time when my expenses kept growing after buying a house and a car. Saving and investing was not that motivating. It was a slow and boring process.

      It’s probably similar to planting a tree. You won’t get the nice shades until years later when the tree gets big.

  3. GYM says:

    Thanks so much for the mention Helen!

    I again, love your description of social media ‘that insatiable beast’. Brilliant and very well described!

    I agree that people make excuses for not managing their money – saying they don’t have time. I think more so people are intimated by investing and so they don’t get involved with it. People rather blame someone else for poor management of moeny than look at themselves.

    I love managing my money! I like to move my money from my accounts to savings and investments, pay the credit card bills.. it’s so fun!! I’m sure we are definitely not the norm though.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi GYM, thank you. After reading Caroline’s post “What If Frugality Is Not In Your DNA?”, I realized probably I made the conclusion too soon. The situation could be more complicated. I’m sure everyone wants to manage their money well. The intention is there. But for some reason, it’s not converted into actions. For you and me, we just love managing money, and don’t feel it’s a struggle. But it’s not the case for many people. Very interesting social issue.

  4. Caroline says:

    Hi Helen, thanks so much for mentioning my post and my other BBB:)
    I do believe that even with more time, some people still wouldn’t take care of their money. It’s just not in them. But others would if they just made it more of a priority .

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Caroline, yeah, priority makes a difference for money management. The hardest part is to get started, and begin tracking the expenses. Just like you said, being frugal could be related to DNA. So is managing money.

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