How Much Time Should You Spend on Your Personal Finances?
With all of these blogs, books, radio broadcasts, magazines and so forth, personal finance sure seems complicated. There’s so much to manage and so much to do that it can be overwhelming and seem like a full-time job. It doesn’t need to be though.
I for one like to keep my life simple and do not enjoy balancing checkbooks, budgeting, paying off debt, managing bills, re-balancing my portfolio, and so on. If that’s what it would take I wouldn’t have time to make money and it wouldn’t be worth it.
Managing your money, however, does not need to be that complicated. I personally spend less than an hour a month working on my personal finances, and I think any more time spent on it would make things worse off. When I over-analyze things and make things more complicated than they need to be, I make mistakes – and in this case they could be costly mistakes.
Note that I am strictly speaking about managing money and current investments. I do spend an extra couple hours a week seeking investment opportunities, assessing the risk and continuing to develop my investment skills.
How do I spend less than an hour a month managing money? This is mostly accomplished through automation, but also by doing some upfront work in order to be organized.
- Bills are all paid for through automated bill paying, so I rarely even have to open my mail.
- I use automated programs that downloads income and spending activity, sorts it and produce a visualization of my money in and money out.
- The majority of my paper investments are in index funds. Money is automatically transferred to my brokerage account to purchase the same dollar amount every few weeks – thus being diversified while taking advantage of dollar-cost-averaging.
- Savings is also regularly transferred to a high-yield account, where it sits until it is ready to be used to purchase assets.
The rest of my time is spent seeking ways to increase cash flow, reduce taxes and eliminate inefficiencies in my spending.
While the media does a great job of complicating personal finance, it can really be quite simple. It may take some upfront work to analyze your income and expenses, create a budget, set up accounts for automatic bill pay, and to create a debt pay-down plan. Once you get the leg work out of the way, managing your money does not have to be a painful or time consuming process.
Millionaire Money Habit: Managing money can be developed just like any other skill. It may require some number crunching and analyzing at first, but over time it becomes second nature and effortless.