Is ‘Life Overload’ Busting Your Budget?
Four Ways to Regain Control
In this day of limitless life choices, we like to think we can do and have everything.
Yet, many of these choices turn into life overload.
1. General Choice Overload
There’s a belief that more choices equals freedom and happiness. In actuality, more choice creates increased paralysis and decreased satisfaction, according to psychologist Barry Schwartz who explains the paradox in an extremely popular TED talk.
Think about it. Increased choice is everywhere. Right now, there are over 64 choices of dental floss. In the early 1970s there were 12. (Top 5 Lies We Tell Ourselves)
Believe it or not, there actually was a time when choices were extremely limited: black or white shoe laces, white sneakers, vanilla, chocolate or Neapolitan ice cream, paying with cash or check, one long distance carrier, and 30-year mortgages.
Now, you can choose what seems like a limitless number of options for ice cream, shoes…and, yes, even mortgages. Even though these options are designed to make you happier, an ongoing daily barrage eventually causes such overload there is little energy left to plow through the noise to concentrate on the more important financial decisions in life.
Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you just picked anything to get the decision over with? That may work when you’re picking from a make-your-own-taco bar, not so much if you need to pick a retirement plan. (By the way, even if you are 25, you should be picking a plan!)
If you did just pick for convenience, what did the decision ultimately cost you in terms of money, disappointment, frustration or time?
2. Lifestyle Overload
Is your life an ongoing blur of family, work, community, and maybe kids?
You know, finishing your work project, doing loads of laundry, catching up on emails, getting the kids to bed, grabbing takeout food for dinner, all the while keeping up with your Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram updates?
I’m exhausted just thinking about it. So, with all that, when do you squeeze in the time to manually or electronically pay bills, research major financial decisions, compare prices, record and evaluate your spending, prioritize your financial needs, or take time to discuss important financial matters with your spouse or family? ( 3 Ways Leaders Fall Victim To Sabotage)
Often, the expensive late fees and insufficient check fees are not due to lack of money or money skills, but to lack of time to pay bills, deposit paychecks, or get financially organized.
3. Basic Necessities Overload
Basic living necessities are no longer basic. There was a time when we didn’t have cell phones, basic cable, Internet connections, computer maintenance, or software upgrades.
Now, it’s impossible to imagine even functioning in a job or family life without many of these services. How much are all those “basic necessities” adding to the other fixed expenses in your monthly budget?
When you wonder why you can’t seem to get ahead or make ends meet, often the problem is the current increased number of basic fixed expenses.
Living within your means may mean choosing to cut back even more with the discretionary spending. Or, it could mean rethinking those basic necessities, period.
4. Overload Solutions
How much time and energy seeps out every day as you agonize over mundane choices, hectic schedules, and unsatisfied wants?
What if that time and energy were focused on important financial decisions, productive planning and determining what system would work best for your own situation?
Tune in to your own inner wisdom for solutions best for you.
Regroup – Which activities, responsibilities, decisions and stuff can you let go of or delegate to someone else to free up more time to manage your money more effectively on a regular basis? How about a “Screen Fast Day” for more focus time?
Pick and Save – Don’t worry about the thousands of choices for money management systems. Choose one and just start! After all, sometimes worrying about the best, easiest or the cheapest system is more about procrastination than financial success.
Simplify and Streamline –This includes your space, time and systems to stay current with managing your overall financial situation.
Step back, look at your life, and make decisions that are proactive and rational instead of reactive and emotional to reduce that daily life overload and salvage your budget.
Judy Lawrence, M.S. Ed., is a Financial Counselor in Albuquerque, NM, founder of www.MoneyTracker.com and author of “The Budget Kit: Common 6th Ed”. Judy shares fundamental money management tools and concepts developed and gleaned from sitting at thousands of kitchen tables (physically and virtually) and guides people toward healthy relationships with money. Allow Judy to help you understand, create and maintain a budget that works for you through her free one-hour webinar and online e-course.