Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Cost of Being Busy

Ask anyone how they are these days and there’s a good chance the answer is "busy." Family, household responsibilities, job, kids’ activities, hobbies, volunteer work, social events, the list of things a person can be busy with is endless. I think there may even be some people out there who are involved in a contest to see who can be the busiest, although I have no proof of it. What could the prize possibly be?

What is the cost of all this busy-ness? It is mentally and physically exhausting to be on the go from morning to night, for sure. How many of us consider the financial cost of our jam-packed calendars? Almost everything we do has a price tag on it. Do you drive a car to all of your activities? Are you involved in anything that requires some form of special clothing or equipment? Is it often easier to pick up food while you’re out rather than take time to cook at home? The costs involved in a busy schedule will, of course, be different for everyone. The biggest non-budgeted cost in my day used to be food for myself and the kids when we were out running errands. I tended to either be in too big a hurry getting out the door to spend time packing lunches or be totally wrong about how long my errands would take and find us still out at dinner time. I have made a real effort to plan our errand days very strategically around meal (and nap) times and it has made a difference in the bottom line.

Here are a few questions to get you thinking about where your busy schedule may be draining your budget:
  • How close are your activities to your home?
  • Are you missing out on any car-pool opportunities?
  • Have you bought equipment that you could have borrowed?
  • How many activities do your kids need to be involved in to be happy?
  • Do you regularly meet at a coffee shop or restaurant with someone you could just as easily see at your home, the office, a park?
  • Do you pay someone to do something you could easily do yourself if you had the time?
  • Are there activities that you create extra costs for? For example, I find it nearly impossible to leave my house without stopping at my favorite local coffee drive-through.
It may be worthwhile to take a look at your calendar. Maybe you can free up some time and money to do more things that are truly important to you.

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