The Time Budget

Time BudgetWe all have different budgets based on our incomes, lifestyles, and general overall circumstances. One budget that we all have that is exactly the same is our time budget.  7 days; 168 hours; 10,080 minutes; 604,800 seconds…52 week a year…the clock is ticking.

Time is something we have to spend wisely, because we never know how much we have.  Sure, statistically most of us will live into our 80s, but some of us will not see next year.  Live as if you will die tomorrow, save as if you will live to be 100.  The reason I work so much now is so that I can buy time, a lot of it. My vision is to be fully in control of my time by age 45, 20 years earlier than the benchmark that most people plan for retirement. Do yourself a favor, after defining your goals, make sacrifices in your time budget the same way you make sacrifices in your financial budget in order to get ahead.  The number 1 way to get ahead is to put more time into focused work and education.

Allocate Your Time Budget To Planning:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.  If you want to succeed in reaching your goals, you must have clearly defined goals, on a timeline, with achievable, realistic action steps to get there.  Take a 2 hour chunk this week to define your goals.  Spend 1 hour per week on refining the action steps and seeing where you are in response to those goals.

As an example, one of my long term goals is to pay off my house in the next 5 years.  My goal is NOT to pay off my house early.  It is NOT to pay extra on the house.  Those are not goals.  Goals have timelines.  Then I go into detail.  In order to pay off my house in five years I will track my progress on my mortgage planning spreadsheet.  I will pay an extra $200 per month every month automatically on my mortgage. I will additionally pay at least $12,000 extra on my mortgage every year at the end of the year. This will bring my total balance to $0 in under 5 years.  To provide the income to achieve these goals, I will work a night shift job every winter to bring in about half the amount needed, and the other half will be paid for out of the budget that I already have.

I defined the goal, I gave myself action steps, I defined how I would achieve them, and I put in a method of accountability.  This is how to put yourself on the path to success by allocation some of your time budget to planning.

Allocate Your Time Budget To Working More:

The biggest economic frustration I have is the havoc wreaked on “part time” workers thanks to Obamacare.  By defining full time work as anything over 30 hours per week.  Millions of workers were dropped down to 25 – 29 hours per week for employers to avoid paying health insurance.  I routinely worked 39.9 hours at KFC for years.  If I worked there now I guarantee my hours would have been cut in the same fashion.  Because we need to focus on what we have control over, if you are one of the victims of Obamacare, it is necessary to get a 2nd part time job, or spend a lot of time looking for one full time job, that is if you want to get ahead of course.

How we spend our time budget is directly related to our financial budget.  I see people crying all the time about having no money, yet they spend 10 hours a week in a bar…spending money…and time; while only working 30 hours a week.  Turn the equation around,and instead of spending $100 at the bar a week, earn $100 by working those 10 hours and all of a sudden you’re up $200 a week, $10,000 a year.

What drives me crazy is when my friends and co-workers who are constantly frustrated with their level of pay choose to turn down overtime. Just 5 hours of working time and a half is the same a 7.5 hours of straight time.  when working a 40 hour week, this is a pay increase of almost 20%!

Allocate Your Time Budget To Looking For A Better Job:

I find it interesting that most people spend far more time complaining about their current job than they spend looking for a better job, myself included. We get comfortable with where we are at.  Sure we complain that we want more money, but how many of us actually take the time to lead a focused job search for something better once we start feeling under compensated? Take some time to update your resume, look up jobs that may be a bit of a stretch into a better role, and network like crazy.  What’s the worst that can happen? Someone offers you a job you don’t want you can just tell them no.

Adjusting Time Budget Allocations:

If we make the assumption that 8 hours per day is entitled to sleep (which is a LOT by the way) and that we should have at least half of our waking life to do what we want to do, then you still have 56 hours left to work.  I have worked 75 – 84 hour weeks non-stop for 4 months, multiple times. I have gone 6 months solid with no days off between work and school. I know several other people who have done way more in order to get ahead. If you want to get ahead, you must put in the time like you want to get ahead.

The average American spends 5 hours watching TV or playing video games EVERY DAY.  destroy this.  The world is FULL of people who work multiple jobs and put in 70+ hours per week every week.  These people are doing what it takes to get ahead, drastically ahead.

It all comes down to how we spend our time.  A famous quote attributable to Joe Biden is “Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” I say show me how you spend your TIME budget and I will tell you what you value.

Right now I’m reading The Productivity Project to help improve my time management.  The clock is ticking, what are you going to accomplish this hour, this day, this week, this month, this year, this decade, this LIFE?



John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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