5 Tips to Do More With Your Time

Today, we have a post from personal finance blogger Harry Campbell.  Harry started blogging about personal finance on his main site Your PF Pro a few years ago and enjoyed it so much that he started a second site dedicated to finding the perfect work-life balance at The Four Hour Work Day.  When Harry is not blogging, he works full time as an aerospace engineer and enjoys surfing and playing beach volleyball.
Many of us have big financial goals we’re striving for, like re-paying thousands of dollars worth of debt or gaining financial independence. But there are only so many ways to cut expenses and trim the fat from your budget.  In order to come up with a little extra cash to put toward these kinds of goals there are a lot of people pursuing ways to earn more.

Creating multiple income streams is the way to go if you want to fast-track your way to financial success. Theoretically, your earning potential is unlimited – there’s no limit to how much you can earn if you’re capable of leveraging your skills and abilities to generate higher and higher incomes. Another important factor to consider is how you leverage your time.

We all have 24 hours in a day, and yet some of us seem to have an easier time of doing more with those hours than others. Learning how to manage your time effectively in order to stay productive is a huge consideration when it comes to determining how successful your side businesses, hustles, or gigs will be.

With that in mind, here are 5 ways to do more with your day so you can manage your time wisely and stay on top of all the ways you earn a little extra money to fund your financial dreams:

  • 1. Step Back. Do More With Your TimeIt sounds a little counter-intuitive, but to learn good time management you need to first put on the brakes and look at the big picture. Evaluate how you’re currently spending your time. Does a 30 minute lunch break turn into 2 hours of TV-watching or Internet surfing? Are you losing time because you actually have no clue how long certain things take or how many minutes and hours you spend on everything you’re doing?Treat your time like you would your money. Start tracking it and examine where it goes each and every day. Then, work to eliminate the waste and refocus on what’s actually important and what will get your closer to your goals.
  • 2. Schedule Your Days. If you have a hard time keeping track of all that you need to do, or find that you can’t stay focused throughout the day, make a schedule. Use a tool like Google Calendar, viewing your days in the “week” or “4 days” mode. Then, break down tasks by the hour or half-hour and assign yourself something to do in each time slot. For example, if you have a blog post that needs to be written, maybe you’ll add an event to the calendar that says “write blog post” and schedule it for 8am to 9am. That way you know what you need to do and you can stay on track to get it done when you told yourself you would.
  • 3. Take Care of the “Non-Negotiables.” If having a detailed schedule is too confining, consider establishing three non-negotiable tasks every day. These tasks have to be completed by the end of the day, no exceptions. This will force you to prioritize what’s important, and will get you motivated to make sure you can cross them off each day’s to-do list.
  • 4. Eliminate Distractions. Stop trying to work in front of the TV. Accept that you can’t get serious work done if your spouse is chatting on the phone in the next room and you can’t tune them out. Create a quiet, effective workspace – preferably one that has a door you can shut when you need to seriously focus and concentrate. You’re wasting time by allowing distractions to keep you from being as productive as you need to be. If you feel bad about shutting yourself up away from your family in order to work, consider this: if you’re in a space where you can just work, no distractions, you’re likely to complete necessary tasks much faster, which means you can finish up and then give your family your undivided attention. It’s a win-win for everyone.
  • 5. Be Okay with Saying “No.” If there’s a client you hate, a project that is taking up a ton of time and will offer a tiny payout, or a task you can’t stand to do – just say no. Drop these negative, energy-draining commitments as soon as possible (and in a professional manner). Your time is valuable and you’ll regain so much of it if you cut off toxic projects or clients. You’ll also feel happier, more energized, and capable of tackling the stuff you actually enjoy.

How Your Confidence Affects Your Finances, Part Two

For part one of this series, go here.

In our earlier post, we talked about how debt can seem insurmountable to some, as documented in the movie, Maxed Out. Unfortunately, some people feel their debt is so overwhelming that they take their own lives. That includes a college student who owed $12,000. While $12,000 is not a small sum, it’s not worth taking your life.

Debt and Your Self Worth

Our culture recognizes that many people identify their worth by their jobs. When we meet someone new and tell them what we do for a living, we say, “I am a teacher” or “I am an engineer.” We literally take on the identity of the job that we do.

What is not discussed is that we often measure our worth by our debt, also. If you’re in debt and struggling to make your monthly payments, it’s easy to feel worthless and hopeless. When my husband and I finally faced our nearly $57,000 in credit card and student loan debt, I felt embarrassed and stupid. After all, how did I let myself get in this position?

Your Thoughts Can Determine How Quickly You Can Get Out of Debt

Keep Calm Payoff Debt 2You may begin your debt pay off journey as I did–chiding myself and feeling like it was hopeless. How would I pay off this debt that was greater than our annual income? The whole process felt hopeless, and I wanted to give up before I even started.

But through our two year long journey thus far, I learned some things that make paying off debt easier.

  1. Be confident. When I stopped chiding myself and instead decided to encourage myself, the weight caused by debt was lifted. Instead of thinking, “I’m so stupid for being in this much debt,” I thought, “We’ve made mistakes financially, but now we’re on the right path. We’re making strides in our debt repayment plan, and eventually we’ll be out of debt.” This encouraging self-talk increased my confidence and reduced my anxiety. I felt empowered.
  2. Look at the little picture. Sometimes looking at the big picture–the total debt that you owe–can be overwhelming. Instead, focus on the smallest debt. If you put your extra money on the smallest debt, you’ll see progress more quickly. If you owe $60,000 but your smallest debt is $5,000, focus only on that one. Don’t look at your total debt load. You’ll feel elated as you watch your progress paying down the smallest debt.
  3. Celebrate small victories. Encourage yourself every step of the way. Praise yourself when you’re able to pay more off in a month than you typically can pay. Celebrate when you pay off one debt. Shout in your house that the debt is gone. Share it with your friends if they know of your debt struggle.

If you’re in debt, you can either hurt yourself mentally and physically by berating yourself and wallowing in self-pity. Or, you can heal yourself mentally and physically by praising and encouraging yourself through the long journey of paying down debt. Which would you rather do?

How do you encourage yourself when paying down debt?

The Millennial’s Guide To Making Ends Meet

For a few months now, we’ve seen a resurgence of generational conflict arising from a series of articles written in defense of one generation or in celebration of another. These pieces indicate that baby boomers have lied to millennials, millennials are lazy, all generations are destined for failure. There’s amusing, certainly and perhaps thought provoking—but none of them are right.

The truth of the matter is that the millennial generation is faced with a different set of problems—a generation told that college was the only option for a financial future has left them with mountains of student loan debt and a job that will barely cover the cost of rent. They’re a generation that is well spoken and well educated, but not well employed.

But they’re getting there. In fact, roughly 60% have no desire to climb a corporate ladder in search of the American Dream. As many as 71% have plans to quit existing jobs and work for themselves. The “you can do anything” mentality that has been criticized by older generations is resulting in young people who are willing to take a chance and invest on themselves.

If this sounds like you (or a child or a niece or a family friend), take note—it’s a long and difficult road, both mentally and financially. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make ends meet as you prepare to be your own boss. By ditching bad habits that might be emptying your bank account and scoping out the passive income options available to you, you’ll be able to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams while paying your bill in time—and maintaining your all-important credit score.

Social Lending

As crowdfunding gains popularity, so does the idea of social lending networks. Such sites (Like Lending Club) provide a platform where the individual is the bank doing the lending. This means that you offer your current money to individuals in approximately $25 increments and charge interest. Some are high risk investments, but others offer a low risk way to make a little bit of extra money with little to no effort.

Real Estate Investing

If you’re already a home owner or in a position to become one, this might be a great option for you. Real estate investment and management is an especially good opportunity if you’ve got a bit of time on your hands. Most landlords make around $500 profit each month, which can really add up.

If you’ve got the property and home, but not the time, there are companies that will manage your real estate for you. For a fee, they’ll take care of maintenance, etc.—leaving you to collect a bit of extra cash.

Work For It

Of course, the easiest way to earn extra money is to simply earn it by performing a job. This is easier said than done, especially if you’ve got a traditional nine to five job. Luckily, there are a few jobs that a person with a college education and a persistent attitude can grab to increase their income.

Many people find plasma donation an easy way to make approximately $200 per month. Though it is considered a donation, plasma donation centers pay you for your time (about an hour each time you visit, excluding the first). Typically, the first donation of the week pays around $20, while the second offers $30. You can donate up to two times every week, assuming there is a day in between.

You might also consider getting some extra work as a freelance blogger. Many sites hire independently contracted people to write for them. Assuming you are able to make deadline, these types of jobs are great because you can perform them at any time from a variety of places. You should expect to make around $10 per entry.

Working for yourself will be no easy task, but millennials will find company in the experience of one another. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a parent to one, let’s celebrate the diverse business experience each generation has to offer!

 

Heidi Andrews roots for the LA Dodgers and the freedom to eat chocolate for breakfast. When she isn’t teaching herself to make those cool designs on espresso drinks, you can find her advocating for financial literacy at The Jason Hartman Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving knowledge across the globe.