Believe it or not, your daily schedule says a lot about your spending habits. Is your schedule packed to the gills with spending opportunities? For example, do you schedule your days around eating out, going to the mall, or going to the movies? Are these the items on your to-do list that are most important? Or is your day scheduled around other, free activities such as exercise, reading, cooking, or playing games with your family? The person whose schedule revolves around spending activities will have a much harder time saving money than the person who schedules plenty of free activities into the mix. It sounds like it should be obvious, but many people build their daily lives around spending without realizing it.
If you’re wondering where your money goes, take a look at some recent weeks worth of schedules. Were you going out with friends a lot to paid activities? Did you just “have to” see the latest movies in the theater? Did you “have to” go see your favorite sports team every weekend? Was a morning trip to the coffee place in your daily schedule? Were you having a lot of lunches with coworkers? Did you plan trips to the mall or outlet center? If many of your planned activities were chances to spend, your money just followed your daily schedule.
If you need to save more money, you need to replace the spending activities on your calendar with non-spending activities. For example, instead of planning on lunch out with your coworkers, see if they’re interested in an office pot luck lunch. Instead of going to see the latest movie every weekend, rent an older release or do something else entirely like read or take the family on a picnic. Instead of going clubbing with friends, see if they’d be interested in a game night at your house. Rather than hitting the coffee shack every morning, get up ten minutes earlier and make your own. You can change and rearrange your daily schedule so that you spend less, it just takes some forethought and creativity on your part to make non-spending activities the heart of your daily schedule.
Better scheduling also pays off in other ways, too. If you leave yourself little time between appointments, you’re more likely to grab something quick to eat at the drive through because you don’t have time to make something. If you don’t leave yourself any down time in your schedule, you may find yourself spending more money and thinking you’re “relaxing” by going shopping. If you cram every minute of a vacation with paid activities, that vacation probably cost more than if you had planned some days to just relax by the pool or beach. Leaving enough time in your schedule to realistically accomplish your goals and provide some down time is the best way to save money. It may mean that you have to give up some desired activities or say no to someone’s request, but in the end you are less stressed and better off financially.
Obviously not every day can be scheduled for optimum savings. Sometimes things happen that wreck even the best schedules. In that case, don’t beat yourself up about it. However, looking at your daily schedule and seeing how you prioritize your time and your activities can show you why it seems like you never have any money.