If you want to achieve your financial goals, you’re going to need to have some cash set aside for unexpected expenses.
If you want to achieve your time-based goals, whether that’s “completing my work by 5pm” or “writing a 50,000-word novel in November,” you’ll need to set aside time for both your work and the unexpected stuff that gets in the way of your work.
That, in itself, is kind of a no-brainer. (The occasional impulse buy is less likely to derail your financial goals than the big expense you didn’t see coming; the hour of procrastination has less of an effect on your time-based goals than the big time-consuming task that just got added to your day.)
But what’s really interesting is the way these two budget s —the time budget and the money budget —interact with each other.
If you don’t have any slack in your financial budget, you waste time.
If you don’t have any slack in your time budget, you waste money.
Here’s what I mean:
If you are so committed to a financial goal that you attempt to maximise every penny you’ve got, you end up doing things like spending an hour online looking for the best deal on laundry detergent—or, if you really want to be frugal about it, spending even more time online evaluating the costs and benefits of making your own.
If you are so committed to getting the most out of every hour that you don’t build any free hours into your schedule, you end up doing things like ordering a bunch of new clothes because you don’t have time to wash the clothes you already have (and you don’t even have time to send them out to be laundered).
This is different than, say, not earning enough money to build that kind of slack into your life. When I was just out of college and working as a telemarketer, I would only ride the bus during off-peak hours because saving a few quarters a day was worth the extra hassle.
There are times when the least expensive option is the only reasonable option.
There are also times when you need to start asking yourself “how can I balance my long-term financial goals with my short- and long-term life goals?”
And one of the keys to keeping both work and life balanced is to have some slack in both your finances and your schedule.
Otherwise, the tightrope will be strung too tightly for you to stay on—and you’ll either fall onto the side where you spend a bunch of extra money, or the side where you spend a bunch of extra time.