Top 3 Ways To Stay On Top Of Your Finances, Even As An Overworked Single Adult

Today, let’s talk about another enormous challenge you’re likely to face as a single adult, as you try to stay on top of your personal finances.

Last time, we talked about probably the biggest challenge single adults face on their road to financial peace and independence

… and that’s not having someone as a partner to keep them accountable or on track for their set financial goals.

From the book, today we’re learning about another big challenge that single adults face, as they try to get their financial acts together.

And that challenge is “not having enough time” or just plain “tiredness from work.”

Right now, we’re in the third paragraph of Page 34, under the title ‘Single-Adult Trouble Spots’, in Chapter 2 of Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money.

And here’s my lesson for the day:

To stay on top of your finances as a single overworked adult, you’ll need to keep things very simple.

So, here are two scenarios from both ends of the spectrum, similar to what Dave describes:

  • For example, you’re a fresh college graduate, and you just got your dream job in consulting – only now, you’re always on the road meeting with clients, and working 18-hour days. You hardly have the time to cook for yourself, so you eat out for most meals; and you even have to hire other people to walk your pets, clean your apartment, or manage your Airbnb guests; or
  • You’re a single parent, and you have to work two, three… or even four jobs, so you can comfortably provide for yourself and your kids. You want to be more present in your kids’ lives and so, you also bathe, feed, clothe your kids and put them to bed. You figured you need to get ahead, so you’re enrolled in community college classes, and often have to take classes on weeknights and weekends, for multiple weeks at a time

So many times, you even find yourself sleeping off in front of your TV – too tired to crawl into your bed.

Bottom line: you’re a single adult with a lot of responsibilities and work packed into your day.

Even more, the long hours you’re working means you sometimes need to spend more money, so you can take care of the daily and house chores that you just can’t find the time to do.

In fact, you’re working so hard and long…

… so much that, finding the time to review your monthly income and expenses is just a huge luxury and almost impossible, and you wish to God that you had the time to just be able to review your expenses!

Talk less of preparing a monthly budget for the upcoming month.

So:

  • you live by yourself;
  • you don’t have a partner you’re accountable to; and
  • you’re spending way more money than you plan for;

And so, you ask yourself: “In all of these, how do I stay sane and financially healthy at the same time?”

Here are the top 3 ways you can use to start staying in control of your finances, even as an overworked single adult

1. Adopt a saving mindset

With this saving mindset, list out your most important expenses – major expenses that keep your life running. For example, rent, food, electric & internet, gas, insurance, etc.

Then, set a day and time every month on your calendar (for example, the 2nd of every month) – to pay off those major expenses…

… and then use ask your bank to help move the remaining amount (balance) every 4th of the month, as an automatic withdrawal, into your savings accounts.

So essentially, you’re only spending money that you need to spend, and then you’re saving the rest.

With this strategy, you’re taking care of the most important areas of your life, while also saving as much money as you can.

This helps you cover your core monthly expenses, while making sure you’re saving more than you would have if you’d been keeping and tracking a full monthly budget.

Especially as a single adult, it’s relatively easier for you to decide how much you want to spend on an expense, and stick to it.

So use this strength to your advantage, and save even more as a single adult.

2. Keep your monthly budget simple

If you budget has 16 line expenses where you have to track every single line each month, and have to decide how much to spend on each expense – every month – that gradually piles up into a lot of work for you.

In fact, the fear of the work you have to do each time you balance your budget might even scare you, and make you do nothing altogether.

Here’s a solution that you can use: in my monthly budget spreadsheet, create columns for expenses that you have to pay off every month, and then make those a priority.

If the expense is not a monthly expense, say an insurance bill, you’ll put a reminder in you calendar to remind your at least four times leading up to the bill’s due date.

That way, you get multiple reminders so that all your bills get paid on time, and you don’t have lots of budget items that you constantly have to keep track of.

3. Take advantage of your downtimes

Even as you work long hours and can hardly find the time to sit, see if you can find a 10-15 minute window, when you aren’t doing any active work, or when you’re only doing busy work.

Your brain might be too tired to do your primary work, or you’re just plain stressed, and need something to relax or calm your mind.

These are your downtimes, so take note of them.

For example, for you, it might be 5:30 – 6:00 PM on Mondays, and 6:00 – 6:30 PM on Fridays. And here’s the good part about these downtimes: you’ll start noticing these downtimes, once you actively start looking for them.

Take note of these times, and add them to your calendar, as times when you’ll steadily improve your personal finances, one downtime at a time.

The key here is to know what you’ll be working on before that time. So that, when your alarm goes off, you know exactly what you need to be doing.

In other words, instead of putting in your calendar: “review my personal finances” or “check my budget”, get very specific.

For example, here are some actionable tasks you can add to your calendar for you to do, during your downtimes:

  • “Completely pay off my Discover credit card, add amount to ‘Budget’ spreadsheet on my Desktop”
  • “Call my car insurance company and negotiate rates – get 40% off?”
  • “Transfer $5,000 in savings from my Capital One 360 Checking account to my Chase savings account”
  • “Pay Sallie May $400 of student loans, add $400 expense to ‘Budget’ spreadsheet in Google Drive”
  • “Donate $70 to The Charity Fund – use paypal.me/charityfund”, add $70 expense to ‘Budget’ spreadsheet on my Desktop”

So you see how these statements are very specific…

… and make it very simple for you to act on, right away.

Here’s what happens when you set up your calendar this way:

It’s time for your downtime, your alarm goes off; and then right there, you see precisely the two steps you need to do – spelt out for you in easy-to-follow steps.

What do you do? You’re all over it, and in 10 seconds, you’re done.

BAM. Small, but sweet, win for you.

Your brain loves this, your love this, and you feel happier, better, and more relaxed about your personal finances.

Suddenly, you become so pumped that you’re actively staying on top of your finances, even with your hectic work schedule.

Don’t be surprised if you then start thinking of more ways to master your money and seize every moment, the easy, stress-free way.

As a single adult, the reward for your hard work will likely be more work.

So how do you take proper care of your personal finances?

By remembering this:

To stay on top of your finances as a single overworked adult, you’ll need to keep things very simple.

Get simple with your savings, be simple with the budgets, and be simple with your financial calendar.

And you’ll see how, a lot of the times, simple does the magic for your financial freedom.

That’s all for today, my friend. We’ll continue in the third paragraph on Page 35 of the book tomorrow.

-DD

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