Money is always a game of juggling your priorities. I became extra aware of it this weekend when I was talking with my father about my aging and ailing Toyota Prius. The trunk doesn’t open on my Prius. The latch broke a couple of months ago and my father asked me why I hadn’t had it fixed yet. And I blathered something about not having time and money. But then I realized that fixing the trunk just wasn’t my priority right now. I find the time and money to go see my favorite bluegrass bands. I always find the time and money to enjoy dinner out at my favorite brewpub on Friday nights. I have the time and money to take a class every semester to work toward an academic goal. It’s just not that important to me to be able to open the trunk on my Prius. I will get it fixed eventually. But it’s pretty easy for me to work around for now, so I just haven’t made it a priority.
I guess the tricky part with money is defining your priorities and making sure they’re not out of balance. Making bluegrass festivals more important than repairing the broken trunk latch on a car that is otherwise fine isn’t a problem. Making dinner out at the brewpub more important than paying the rent is a HUGE problem. It’s a matter of making sure your NEEDS are met before you start throwing money at your WANTS. And then you can decide how you are going to prioritize those wants.
I want to get my trunk repaired. I just don’t want it more than I want concert tickets. At least not this week.
Lately I’ve found myself very pressed for time. I just have more things that need to be done than I can reasonably fit into the amount of time I have available. It happens to everyone from time to time. I’m pretty sure it happens to law students more frequently than you’d like to think about. There’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to figure out a way to get through it.
So how do you work through these times? It requires prioritization. You have to analyze what really needs to be taken care of right away as opposed to what can wait a little bit longer. The things that are most important, you address right away. The things that are of less value to you (or to the people depending on you) get pushed to the back burner. (As I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, I’m coming to grips with the fact that getting a Moneywise Tip out on Monday morning was a higher priority to me than either getting a haircut or cleaning my bathroom.)
It works this same way with financial priorities. Sometimes there’s not enough money for all of the things that you would like. So you have to figure out what’s important enough to address right away (usually the requirements, like housing and food), and what can wait for a time when the cash flow is a bit better (usually things like concert tickets or new clothes).
So next time you’re wondering how to make your money stretch a little further, think about what’s the most important. Prioritization can make the decisions a little easier.