Our system of budgeting is pretty arbitrary. I recommend that everyone make a spending plan based on the calendar month. Twelve months a year: twelve plans a year.
Could we do things another way? And are any of them better?
How many times have you been a part of a conversation that went something like this?
“I was going to take the bus because it was only $18, but it would have taken 6 hours. Then I saw that flying there would be $80, but it would get me there in only two hours.”
“Right, because how much is your time worth?“
How much indeed.
Any visitor to my home will notice a distinct lack of clocks.
At some point during their visit (not a short time, because I assure you I am a deeply scintillating host), they will look around to see what time it is. At first they will glance at the wall for the wall clock (not there), then to the clock usually on the microwave (I don’t own one), then to other surfaces that they think must contain some sort of timepiece. And they won’t find anything. (Eventually, they will sneak a glance at their phone.)
Now this lack of time awareness may seem a bit obsessive, but it speaks to my opinion that thinking about time is stressful.
But I’m starting to learn that this might self-defeating, and also that I may not even be taking my own advice.
I once read a book in which the author opined how a person should be willing to work double time, or on the weekends.
The idea was that if one worked weekends, it will be all overtime, and thus at double rates, which would be worth four extra days a week. Do this long enough, and not only will one almost double one’s pay (four days extra on a five day week) but your boss will take notice and promote you!
From this we can come to a few conclusions:
I last talked about bare-bones living, and how it requires extra attention and care.
But when you’re living so close to the edge, you’re dealing with a lot of stress as it is. So it can be tempting to see this extra work as adding stress to an already stressful situation.
I admit that I am suggesting you do extra work. Keeping track of your expenses and bills, and even figuring out when things get paid during the month, requires attention, perhaps more attention than you’re used to paying. That takes time, and that’s something that you may not have a lot of. I hear objections to this all the time.
But it doesn’t have to be stressful or take a lot of time.
My step-brother-in-law is a pretty impressive guy. I don’t know him all that well (not that surprising given our slightly convoluted connection) but every time we meet up I hear about some interesting and complex project that he’s working on, usually involving home renovation. He lives in a farm house on a large property in a fairly rural area, so he’s got a lot of room for things to happen. Even still, his list of projects are nothing short of extraordinary. At his house, he’s put in new flooring, new windows, a koi pond, a garden, a conversion of the barn into an apartment, and the list goes on. I sometimes get exhausted just hearing about what he’s up to. [Read more…] about Be comfortable making mistakes
In my last post I talked about induced demand, the counter-intuitive idea that when there is a greater supply of a resource, more of it is used. I see this most often in discussion of transportation issues, where people assume that the solution to traffic-clogged roads is to widen the roads (or to build more of them). And yet, looking out the window in your most-recent traffic jam, you can see that this hasn’t worked.
I made the connection between this and your personal life too. People often assume that more money or more time will make it easier to achieve your goals. But, like the traffic-choked highway, when you’ve got more of some resource, there’s a good chance that it too will become allocated, leaving you in the same place. So what can we do? [Read more…] about How to use induced demand to your advantage
Many of you spend a large chunk of your life stuck in traffic. And I feel for you; I lived in New York City with a car for seven years, and while I never commuted to work using my car, whenever I had to drive anywhere I felt like was living in my own personal Black Friday Mall Parking Lot. [Read more…] about What highway congestion can teach you about your goals
Busy. That’s one word that seems to always follow us around. How are you doing? “Busy.” What have you been up to? “Man, I’ve been really busy.” How come I don’t hear from you anymore? “Sorry, I’ve just been really busy.”
If you are in a standard full-time job, being busy is pretty much a guarantee. If you factor an hour each way for your commute, getting there early or staying late (which let’s say adds another hour), getting ready in the morning (one more hour) and let’s assume you get something approximating seven hours of sleep a night, this leaves a maximum of five hours in your weekday to do things like, you know, eat. This time goes by quickly.
Weekends can be a different story. While it’s possible to find yourself with so many errands to do that the weekends fly by, it’s just as possible that you may be left feeling oddly unsure of what to do with yourself. And while being too busy can be stressful, not being busy enough can cause just as much stress. [Read more…] about How to handle unstructured time (when you finally get it)