Can You Manage Your Money if You Can’t Manage Yourself?

If you are unable to take care of yourself and struggle with time management, can you really be successful with your own money management? That was a question that popped into my mind last night. 

I was asked to stop in and help the local scout troop that was working on their personal management merit badge. Before you even get into discussing money in the merit badge you go over time management which to most 12-15-year-old boys isn’t a subject they think about or even understand.

Time Management Can Determine Your Salary & Earnings

The scoutmaster works as an I.T. professional and kept asking me questions about being a boss and why it’s important to prioritize your tasks. He asked all the adults what we used to keep ourselves productive and busy and we all pulled out our phones and showed our work calendars. 

The scoutmaster pulled out a piece of paper that is his “to-do” list. We found it pretty funny that the computer guy uses a piece of paper while everyone else is on their smartphones.

The scoutmaster added a comment at the end that I found to be very true.

“You will not earn a lot of money or have a very good job if you can’t manage your time. No one wants to hire or keep someone that can’t get the job done or prioritize their tasks to get the most important things done first.”

I thought the statement was awesome and very true. I have thought about my employees. I have some that are top performers that go above and beyond what they are asked. I have some that are amazing performers that deviate from the assigned task. I don’t mind creativity or self-starters, but I like to know ahead of time before the task is changed and things aren’t accomplished as planned. 

It is frustrating all the way around. I tolerate it from top performers, but I do not from those who cannot even meet the minimum requirements of their job. But those folks just need to be trained to accomplish more than the minimum.

Do You Have Money Regrets

The second thing we talked about with the boys was regretful purchases. We went around the room one by one and asked if they could think of anything they wished they didn’t purchase. They looked up in the air at the ceiling and leaned back on the chairs and didn’t say anything. Then one scout said, “I am very responsible with my money and wouldn’t waste it.” We all started laughing because of the source. You just have to know the boy to understand.

Do You Recognize Bad Purchases

What we realized at that point is that all the scouts thought that every purchase in their life was a very important and useful purchase. Every single download, video game, and sports item… was deemed an absolutely essential item to them. 

They haven’t gone through any experiences or had any other obligations in life to tell them differently. I know it was about their age when I had the first financial lesson that taught me about money which ended up saving me from a life of debt.

When Do You Learn About Wants vs. Needs

Since the scouts all had a perfect financial record (in their minds) I was asked if I had any regrets. I have a few but the main one that is always in my mind is my $400 bark mistake.

Back when we were putting in our backyard the contractor asked if we wanted bark or rocks in the flower beds. I like to bark and the natural look and my wife said that rock would be a better idea. Well since I take care of the yard I pushed for bark and my wife said that would be fine.

Well, the very first wind storm (and we get some powerful ones) came in and the next morning I am missing about $390 worth of bark that had been blown all over the undeveloped neighborhood.

I went back in the house pretty frustrated that my $400 purchase only made it about 10 days before blowing away. My wife didn’t say anything because she knew I was frustrated, but I could tell there was an “I told you so” in the back of her mind, and deservedly so, she was right.

So Now Do You Have Any Money Regrets

So after sharing my story we asked the scouts if now they understood about money regrets. They said no again and were pretty bored and just wanted to go and play basketball at this point.

When I Was Your Age

Yep, I am old, officially an old person in the room. I thought to myself I was probably the same as these boys when I was growing up. However, now I understand what the adults were trying to teach me back in the day. Don’t you understand what I am trying to teach you? I am trying to help you avoid problems that I ran into at your age.

Are You Managing Yourself?

So are you accomplishing what needs to get done each day? Are you able to prioritize the most important tasks and reorganize tasks as they come along? Some of the best leaders I know are the ultimate time managers. They waste very little time in meetings or have a meeting without a purpose, agenda, and assignments with immediate follow-up. They are in to work early and are the best self-starters I know.

How Do You Get It All Done

I have a neighbor that can do anything, I mean anything. It just blows me away that he can accomplish anything and do it well. He had a very rough family situation growing up, but didn’t accept or excuse that for his life and excelled in school and his MBA program. He joined one of the top high-tech companies in the state and moved from supervisor to manager to vice president. 

He has 4 kids with number 5 on the way. He often runs to work which is 9.9 miles away. He had the exact mileage down. This last summer he finished his basement on his own. He is an avid dancer and clogger (I know random). He can sing. He is an awesome athlete in all sports. He goes to all his kids’ events, he goes to college football and basketball games. He continues to study. He volunteers more than most people I know. 

This summer we ran into him at a BBQ and as we sat down he came over and shook my hand and said he had to take off and I said, “back to work.” Nope, he had to go play the drums in a band. Seriously!

How is someone so talented and can do so much? At the same time, how can someone get everything done and not neglect family or work responsibilities? 

My neighbor is the ultimate master of his time and priorities. It has rewarded him with a rich and meaningful life of fun and hard work and whatever he wants to do. He starts early each day and uses up every minute he can to accomplish what needs to get done. I think he subscribes to this philosophy I read about in Harvard Business Review.

No, When to Say No

My neighbor also says no a lot. Some things just don’t need to be done. Those without great time management skills don’t always understand why their perceived priority isn’t our number one priority. Does it have to be done right away? Can someone else accomplish the task?

It is okay to say no.  Some people struggle with it. I know I did because I didn’t want to offend or pass up an opportunity, but I’d rather be amazing at a few things at work and in life than be really mediocre at many things because I am spread too thin which often leads to frustration. Once you say no, you don’t feel so bad about it because you end up being more productive which is the goal at the end of the day.

Manage Yourself Before Others

It is really hard to follow someone who doesn’t have their life in order. You can tell because they are late, disorganized, easily frustrated with others, and generally unhappy people.

If you want to be a great leader you need to learn how to lead yourself. Then if you can do that you can help others find success as well.

Manage Your Money Like Your Life

If you show a lack of attention to detail in life then what are you doing with your money and finances? Do you give it the time and attention it deserves? Do you manage it like you do your own life? Is it chaotic and a little out of sorts? 

Do you have a plan in place and work to achieve that plan? Are you able to shift gears and re-prioritize obligations when life throws you a curve ball? Do you say no to things when you know that is the best decision for you financially? Do you avoid debt like the plague?

Money is essential in this life. At some point when you can manage your time and your finances you will have peace of mind that is unlike anything else. You rarely have to think about it because you know your life and finances are in order. It takes a lot of hard work to get there, but it is worth it.

Leave a Reply