Friday, September 3, 2010

I Suck At Finances

While this is by no means a sudden revelation, it dawned on me this summer that right now in my life, I suck at finances.  The part of finances that requires attention to detail on a regular basis.

Actually, I'm sort of a disaster at anything that requires my focused time and attention, because honestly I make no space in my life for such things.  Mornings and afternoons are scheduled to homeschool work and activities.  The gaps of time that I leave unscheduled for children to play and create, I seem to fritter away instead of scheduling time for the work for which I hold myself accountable.

The poor results create waves of anxiety and frustration for me.  The avalanche-worthy mountain of paperwork that is my desk, the constant fire-fighting of taking care of things that should have been done yesterday, the fines from late-paid bills, even the stress of never really quite understanding where we are in the broader financial picture.

Years of being organized and great at attention to detail reminds me that my skills for getting things done exist.  Somehow, I'm not making time or priority for important tasks.  What I struggle with defining is why I don't make time.  Am I lazy?  Are my expectations for what I can do in addition to a full homeschool day totally unrealistic?  Am I creating to do's that are actually unnecessary? Do I spend my time on the wrong tasks?

These are questions I'm not even sure how to find answers for, though I keep looking.  How about you? Do you struggle with similar issues?  How do you handle the drone of logistical tasks in your life?  Any insights to share with me?


Wil said...

Our family has found that is a wonderful tool for getting our finances in order. We discovered it 2.5 years ago (before they got acquired by Intuit) about a month after we got married.

The great thing is that it allow us two goals:
1. Easy access for both of us at all times. We didn't want finances to be just something that I did, but something that we both kept tabs on.

2. An easy budget. We are lazy. Mint allows us to be lazy and keep tight track of our money. No messing with stacks of envelops, and it tracks everything from my student debt to our investments.

Valorie said...

It took me a while to realize that I needed to plan some time for me to play/relax while my kids were playing/relaxing. Homeschooling is hard work for the parent-teacher and our brains get tired of the strain. I couldn't school my brain to do anything difficult during the homeschool breaks.

I started bringing my homework (i.e. bills I had to pay or letters I had to write) to the homeschooling table. While my kids were thinking and working, I would demonstrate good work habits to them. Then I'd become a more active teacher and work with my daughter some more before giving her time to puzzle out the work assigned to her again while I worked on my work. In the time it took her to work on a problem or two by herself, I could get a bill or two paid or a thank you note written.

I've taken this strategy with me while I've tutored other kids or volunteered in the schools as a way of creating an environment where people work and puzzle out what to do. It was easy for me to help the kids with every question but they didn't learn any independence and got very good at weaseling the answers out of me! Instead, we'd talk about the next few problems together but write nothing down, then we'd have work time where we'd do our work, then check our work together.

This strategy only works if the group size is very small. For one or two students with similar skill sets, I could get this to work well. Once the skill sets differed or the number went up, my strategy fell out the window since I was spending Timmy's work time helping Tanisha and Tanisha's work time helping Juan, etc. Once that happened, I discovered automatic bill pay to do 95% of the boring work :-)

morna said...

I struggle over the very same questions every day, as I have for years. Keep trying to simplify where possible, you've got so much on your plate.