Ask most Finance professionals to name important aspects of personal finance, and I will guarantee that the word “budget” or some euphemism thereof is among the top answers. If it isn’t, I’d argue that you need find experts that know what they are talking about. Budgets are important.
Dictionary.com defines budget as:
1. an estimate, often itemized, of expected income and expense for a given period in the future.
2. a plan of operations based on such an estimate.
3. an itemized allotment of funds, time, etc., for a given period.
4. the total sum of money set aside or needed for a purpose: the construction budget.
5. a limited stock or supply of something: his budget of goodwill.
6. Obsolete. a small bag; pouch.
7. reasonably or cheaply priced: budget dresses.
–verb (used with object)
8. to plan allotment of (funds, time, etc.).
9. to deal with (specific funds) in a budget.
–verb (used without object)
10. to subsist on or live within a budget.
A lot of choices, but I like to use choices #4 and #8. Sure, budgeting usually talks about money, but many young people have no money (actually, you have more than you think, but that’s another story). So what do they budget? Time is a good answer.
I talk with kids everyday who tell me how there isn’t enough time in the day for them to get everything they need done. Surprisingly, I agree with them to a large extent. Out of 168 total hours in a week, Kids today have:
- Thirty hours of school (give or take).
- Ten or more hours of practice for sports.
- Another ten or more hours of music practice or other extra-curricular activities.
- Twenty-five hours or thereabouts of homework.
- Fifty-six hours needed for sleeping
If you’ve done the math, you are left with 37 hours a week to do everything else! Realistically, kids do exactly what adults do when faced with these kinds of numbers. They give up on stuff. They’ll cut down on time spent on homework, or they’ll cut back on sleep. Some of my juvenile hall students skip out on time spent in school.
I believe Petronius said, “Moderation in all things, including moderation”. I had no idea who Petronius was before researching the quote, but I’ve heard many versions by many people, including Mark Twain. Wherever it originated, good advice is good advice. Take steps to budget your time so that you can do what is important to you, and your parents, without feeling like you are running yourself ragged. The practice will help you when you have to build budgets for other things, like money.
- Like your income, there is a finite amount of time in a day, a week, or a month. You have to work within that framework.
- Just like expenses for food, medicine, and others that are not flexible, there are some time sinks that are unchangeable. You have to budget out realistic sleep time, realistic school and homework time, and some padding to allow for transition between activities.
- Plan ahead. When working with money budgets, sometimes you have to wait and save to buy things, especially big-ticket items like houses, cars, and big vacations. Want to go see a concert? Make sure you get your report on World War II done before.
- Finally, MODERATE! Don’t get hung up on budgeting every single second of your day. Leave some wiggle room for some of those spontaneous things that pop up. You don’t want to miss out on a great experience because you have your day planned out such that you can’t change.
So, the point is, don’t over-budget your time so that you miss out on great experiences, but also don’t waste your time.