The world of “grown ups” is littered with responsibilities. One of them, the one that constantly rears its ugly head over and over again is that of bills and finance. It seems like everyone wants a piece of us, that we are working just to pay the next bill. Every service provider you have – electricity, insurance, mortgage, phone etc – issues a bill to you at different times. This makes it seems as though there is always some bill that needs to be paid, and this sits in the back of your mind, eating away at you until the dreaded due date arrives. Then you might realise that it hasn’t been paid yet and scramble to make a payment before you receive another lovely letter in the mail letting you know that you now owe more money as a “administrative fee” to handle the late payment (it baffles me how some companies can justify such exorbitant late fees… for what?). And what if your simply unable to make a payment?
No two days are the same. So it follows that no two weeks, months, years or even people are the same. Life changes every day and some days it changes a whole lot more than others. When my son was born, for example, oh wow did my life change. And that’s really where this story begins.
A few short years ago my wife and I were both in fairly comfortable jobs. We got by from month to month and were saving for our wedding. Life was pretty comfortable. When we found out we were pregnant we were ecstatic (and surprised). Once the excitement settled down and we started to go to the doctor for checkups and the like it quickly became apparent just how much kids cost and there is no working out how much they need and how quickly they need it. And here’s the kicker, they NEVER STOP NEEDING MONEY!
Last week on Facebook I announced a new direction for Cloud Productivity. Well, not so much a new direction, there will still be plenty if great content on productivity and the like, but with a more holistic focus on these things as they apply to you, your money, managing your life, and actually living it.
There are so many great sites around that already offer amazing insights into the “how” of productivity. What I plan to focus on this year is the “why” and the impact of applying these rules on your money, life and living, as well as “how” to make these changes happen.
In past posts I’ve shared how to get in control of your money and how to plan your money for the future and hinted at the best system to help you get there is YNAB. Here I will share with you exactly what YNAB is, how it works and why I love it so much. The name YNAB stands for You Need A Budget and unless you’re already living the dream you probably need to manage your money some how. Many people (myself included) look to productivity blogs such as this typically don’t have amazing money handling skills. I’m a spender. I love technology, video games and gadgets, these are normally expensive items so handling my money was always a problem. I had tried budgeting before, but I could never get it to stick. I would spend an evening creating some average looking spreadsheet with expenses and then allocate an amount to each, but three things wouldn’t work for me:
- I would never open the spreadsheet up again
- The spreadsheet was never accurate
- I hate spreadsheets
If you work for a company then chances are that you’re going to need to travel somewhere, some day, for something. And when you do you will typically be able to claim back work-related expenses that you’ve incurred.
So often you see people getting back into the office after coming back from a meeting, with a taxi receipt in their hand and then stash the receipt somewhere in the back of their desk drawer. Then, when the accounts people start hounding everyone to submit their expense claims this same person is floundering around digging through piles of notes, junk, cables, dust and a half-eaten Vegemite sandwich from last week looking for any old and faded receipt they can find. And it’s normally a bonus if they can find all of them.
It’s time to talk about money and financial freedom again. I’ve previously written about getting back in control of your money, and now I’d like to share with you how I have learnt to take the next step and “fill the big bill bucket”. The problem is this, and we all know it. You’re plugging away, working your job through the week, taking your family out on the weekend, enjoying being with your friends and then, one day, quite unexpectedly, you receive one of those annoying letters in the mail. Those stupid little letters with the little window. What happens next is usually one of two reactions:
- Shock. You fling you arms in the air and run around your letterbox yelling and screaming in a panic.
- Stunned silence. You simple can not believe what you’re holding in your hands. Surely, this cannot be true!
It might seem strange to see a post about money on a productivity blog, right? Well, I believe the two are connected. By becoming more productive, your are in a position to better your finances. And by having your finances under control, you can be more productive elsewhere. When you have a mountain of bills to pay, credit card debt piling up, and a home loan, or rent, to worry about the stress quickly piles up. And then theres all the “other” expenses to consider such as insurances, activities and entertainment, education, and the list goes on… and on.
If you’re like me, whenever you start to think about all the expenses you have in your life you start to curl up into a ball and rock back and forth on the ground. The immense weight and responsibility of being a “grown up” is crushing, but there is absolutely no escape. Well, almost.
Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to worry about all those bills and expenses? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew, if absolute certainty that they were all taken care of? Wouldn’t you feel lighter, happier and more confident and be able to take on new challenges with gusto? You can, and here’s how!