Are you spending too much time on things that don’t matter?
The other day, I had to participate in a conference call for work. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, luckily it was over in 15 minutes.
I’m not sure if anybody likes conference calls, even the guy who does all the talking. (There’s always one guy who does all the talking, isn’t there?) They might be the worst possible way to discuss things. Most of the time, there’s very little discussing going on, as one person just talks and the others listen, hoping their silence will speed up the excruciating call. Everybody is bored, and usually nothing of consequence is ever discussed.
It’s the same with team meetings. Maybe my history is different than yours, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to a team meeting that wasn’t a waste of time. Either management uses them as an excuse to “remind” everybody of proper operating procedure, or the group spends an hour making a decision that really only should have taken 10 minutes.
Even though I hate wasting time, I think my fight is in vain. Meetings won’t ever go away, since they’re a very public way for middle management to announce they’re working on problems with the staff.
How does this relate back to your finances, anyway?
Focus on important things
Keeping with our meeting analogy, lets assume your team has been meeting about a big project for months now. You’re just about ready to get started on it, and then, out of the blue, senior management squashes the whole project. All that small picture thinking was in vain, since the big picture thinking of management decided against the project.
This concept can easily apply back to your finances. How often have you focused on something arbitrary – like cutting your one weekly lunch out with your co-workers – when you’re guilty of not calling your credit card company to get your interest rate lowered?
In our finances, we tend to focus on small wins. If we use coupons to save $5 on something, that’s small win. It doesn’t take much work to cut a coupon and to remember it the next time you go to the store. Because it doesn’t take much work, the reward is very small. If you add up a whole bunch of small rewards, they can make a serious impact on your finances.
The problem with small victories is, after a while, you run out of frugality tips. You can only save so much on groceries before you start depriving yourself of foods you like. You can only stay home and read library books for a while, until you start to go crazy with boredom. Many people have spending problems, but ultimately there is only so much you can cut from your budget.
The easiest way to improve your finances
Your finances are just a simple equation:
Income – Expenses = Savings
Ideally, you want your income to be significantly more than your expenses, which makes it easy to save. Most people aren’t really in a position to do that, so they have one of two options. They can either increase income or decrease expenses. Guess which option most people choose?
They choose cutting their expenses. They make that choice because it’s easy. But what about the other side of the equation? Why don’t more people try to make more money?
There’s two ways to increase your income. You can either negotiate a raise at work, or find a way to make extra money outside of work. Both can be equally effective, and which path you choose depends solely on your personal situation. If you work for the government, or a union, chances are you’re not going to have a lot of success asking your boss for a raise. Your options at that point would be to take on extra shifts, or if that’s not possible, start a sideline business.
Most of us however, are in a position to ask our bosses for a raise. How often do you discuss your salary with management? Even if they say no, you’ve opened the door to discuss the improvements you’ll have to make for a raise in the future. If my past jobs are any indication, working harder than most everyone else isn’t that hard.
Or, even better, leverage your experience into a job offer from a competitor. Even if you have no intention of leaving your company, having a job offer at a competing firm might be the best negotiating move you can make. Don’t kid yourself, the company would lay you off in a heartbeat if that’s what they they thought the best course of action would be. You owe it to yourself to make the maximum salary possible.
Too many people focus on only one side of their finances. What are you going to do to make more cash?