What is Realistic? Knowing Your True Expenses and Planning Your Time Accurately

Are you one of those people that has set up the perfect budget, but then forgot about a big upcoming expense that ended up derailing your so called perfect budget? Or are you finding your expenses greater than what you budgeted for? Flip the same situation to your calendar and commitments. Do you find yourself over-committing when your schedule shows you do not have the time? Or do you say I will be there in 15 minutes, but then take 30 minutes? If you don’t know what your true expenses are or the true value/priorities of your time, you will keep having these stressful situations happen to you. There is hope though! We think the key is to learn what is realistic and we have some examples to show below in regards to money and time. 

Money- When you budget, whether you are new or more experienced, you need to know your true expenses. True expenses are what you realistically spend on areas of your budget and what you need to save for upcoming expenses. This was the breakthrough/key rule we learned from using You Need a Budget (YNAB) and reading the same titled book. We had struggled with budgeting before when it came to bigger reoccurring expenses which would in turn break the budget. It is because we did not really save or plan for them. We tried to make a list to remember and had a vague idea when they would come, but the same thing would happen again and again. When we started using YNAB, everything just clicked. It made it so easy to set goals and put in categories and showed us just how much we would need to save each month to reach those goals. 

Big expenses do not surprise us now as we are realistic with our spending and saving needs/goals. Our expenses are budgeted for monthly based on our money goals to go towards them. This way expenses do not “slip through the cracks” and we are left wondering why we didn’t have or save enough for them. The same could be said about groceries/eating out. If you budget $1000 a month, but on average spend $200 more for 6 straight months, well that probably means you need to budget more for that category to not pull from other ones! If you don’t, your budget is not realistic or “true” and you will lose trust in it which then leads to giving up.  

Time- This concept can be applied in two different ways. The first is being honest that your schedule matches up with your commitments or knowing just how long something takes you to accomplish so you can realistically plan your days/weeks. If you always feel like you are running from thing to thing, are constantly late or are having to reschedule, you probably are over-committing. Just like a budget, you should have and use a calendar. It does not have to be digital, whatever works for you, but what goes on the calendar hold sacred. If you take the time and effort to put it on there, there is an extremely high probability that it will get done. 

It is okay to slow down. Yes you may get less done in the short term, but in the long term you will more than make up for it and be less stressed.
Photo by Daniel Monteiro on Unsplash

The second thing to work on is actually seeing how long things take for you to do. We as humans are not good at estimating things like this. As hard as it might be to change this habit and this line of thinking, if you think something takes you 15 minutes, but it always takes you a half hour, guess what? You can not say or schedule that thing for 15 minutes. If you are not sure in the beginning where to start, you can double your time so you are not rushed. Give yourself a buffer and some breathing room. So if something you think will take you a half hour, schedule it for an hour. Your schedule should not seem suffocating because that means you are leaving no breathing room and not prioritizing properly. 

We could keep giving examples, but at the end of the day you need to be honest with your self. How much money do I REALISTICALLY need to live on? How much do I REALISTICALLY need to save to make that goal happen? Do I REALISTICALLY think I can commit to that business meeting when I have two other things before and after it? When I tell my family I will be home at 5, but there is a meeting at 4 that always goes about an hour and the drive home is a half hour, but one time the meeting ended at 4:30 so that means there is a chance I can make it. NO!!! Just NO!!! It is hard to tell yourself to slow down and do less, but really what you are doing is giving yourself the freedom and space to say yes to more things, relieve stress, and have a clearer mind. 

If you feel like you are drowning in debt, financial stress, commitments, your to do list, don’t forget to add buffers for yourself. The key is to do just enough to push you, but not overwhelm you either.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Start today by asking yourself with any decision you are making- Am I being realistic in what I am committing to with my time and spending/saving?

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