I don’t use a budget; I just have goals


Everyday there are a few new Lifehacker type articles about how to be more productive or to save time. It seems like a “timeless” pursuit – how to save time. Everyone needs or at least wants to gather up an extra hour here or there, right? But I wonder what it is exactly that people are trying to save this extra time for. I guess there’s this idea that if I could save some time cooking or cleaning, I’d have more time to spend with my children or work on that screenplay. (Wouldn’t it be hilarious if someone wrote an article that literally just said “Cut your social life and you’ll save hours!” Because it would be true, though not necessarily helpful.) But I imagine the average person who finds an extra hour would just use it to watch TV.

I’ve never found anything helpful for giving me time. As someone who is single without dependents, whose commute is her exercise, and who just doesn’t clean her apartment, I have plenty of time. If I saved up a few hours here or there, I’d spend it online shopping. If I missed an hour online shopping, I think I’d be ok. Furthermore, I’m terrible at saving time. I love idling. I love learning new recipes or just walking around and exploring my neighborhood. I love wasting time.

I am not great at cutting corners here or there. It’s never worked for me. It probably goes without saying that I’m terrible at dieting. I hate the feeling of restricting myself and constantly thinking about that restriction. To me, I’d rather eat what I want than be thinner.

I’ve never been a budgeter. But what has worked for me with paying off loans or saving is having goals. I didn’t figure out how to save a few dollars here or there when I was paying off my loans. I just paid off my loans first and figured out what I could spend later. (This was at one point disastrous when I realized I had paid my loan a little too early to pay off  my credit card on time).

So I think what would work for budgeting my time is to set my goals. If I want to write my screenplay, I don’t cut an hour on menial tasks and then sit down for the screenplay. Instead, I would get up early and schedule the rest of my day around it. If it’s that important, it takes precedence and everything else has to fit around it. That would ultimately mean that a lot of other things just don’t get done – rather than reducing the amount of time little errands takes, I would just not get these errands done. If something is more important than my goal, then, that will get done. But the only way I’ve found to budget my time is to focus on the few things I need to get done and skimp on everything else. The same with budgeting – I don’t save money on a bunch of little things. I don’t buy anything at all if there isn’t money for it after my goals have been paid.

To me, it’s simpler. But I’m probably a slothier version of most people.

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