This blog contains some simple tips and advice from two regular guys. We're not accountants, financial advisors, or brokers, so follow, ignore, or discuss our ideas as you see fit.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Time is all we have

Posted by Matt

You know what I hear a lot? "I don't have time."

Let's go with a finance-related example. Let's imagine that you are in the market for a new mortgage and you ask me for a suggestion. I'd probably suggest a basic plan something like this:
  1. Gather your income and asset information.
  2. Call several mortgage lenders and request written good faith estimates from each.
  3. Put all of the GFE's next to each other in a spreadsheet or on a new sheet of paper in such a way that you can compare them line item by line item.
  4. Determine your criteria (e.g., total out-of-pocket at closing, interest rate, monthly payment amount) and evaluate each lender against it.
  5. Identify which lender has the best offer and then call the others to see if they can beat it.
  6. Take the best deal.

Simple right? You definitely want step 6, but you realize that the process above will take many hours and possibly span multiple weeks, and that is when I hear the familiar refrain...."I don't have time for that!" (Lest I be called a hypocrite, let me be the first to admit that I've said the same thing far too many times to count.)

I've been conscientiously working to purge that terrible excuse from my brain. Whenever it pops in, I internally correct myself and try to verbally respond with "I haven't made that a high priority." This has helped me so far, and for more things than just working on my finances. When I think about the things that I haven't accomplished, I have to ask myself questions like "Did I prioritize TV today?" This has helped me hold myself accountable for things that need to be done.

Going back to the mortgage example above, you can ask yourself "are all the things that I want to do over the next few weeks more important than potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars?" Maybe they are. I will grant that there are people with VERY busy lives (most people that I know these days) and I'm not going to try to force my priorities on you. If your job keeps you busy all day and you want to spend time with your children or relax in front of the tube when you get home, by all means do so, but acknowledge that those things are your priorities. If you want results, there are no substitutes for informed decision making and putting in the legwork.

Now I've gotten a little preachy and I didn't mean to do that, so let me cut this short. The thing that I've learned and that I'm trying to share is "Time is ALL I have." It is my responsibility to allocate it according to my priorities.

If you like that, use it and pass it on.

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