One of the most helpful books we have read as a couple has not been anything about how to make our marriage work, or how to have better sex, it was about how to manage our time. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Steven Covey has the best advice and "how to" about how to manage yourself as an individual. Management from this book comes from within, and from within you reap better results than by force or by chance. You become effective. The first three habits deal primarily with time management. There are other elements built in, but by far, they are time related.
How does this play into Fun Dollars? Think about it: What two things do most people in America wish they had more of? TIME and MONEY. In many cases, these two nouns go hand in hand and are hard to separate. Think about your job for a moment. This is what many people spend most of their day and life doing. They are actively trading their TIME for MONEY. Some people get more money for their time than others. But, no matter what your trade rate of time for money is, you can learn to manage both more effectively by applying the principles of The Seven Habits. In the next few pay cycles, I will be examining different ways that the first three habits apply to Fun Dollars, and money management in general.
The first Habit is to "Be Proactive". Dr. Covey explains that pro-active is the opposite of re-active. Proactive means you choose your responses to what happens in your environment in contrast to reacting. He talks about the word "response- able" meaning you are able to respond. You are given the gift of intelligent thought as a human being, so exercise this gift. You don't have to jump to the first "reaction" when things happen, stop and think about how you want to respond.
For me, one of the hardest lessons I have learned so far from blogging about Fun Dollars, is to be more proactive. Even though I exercise this lesson in my day-to-day life when dealing with common household issues (not perfectly, mind you, it's an ongoing growth process) I am still in the early stages of learning how to carry this over to my spending habits.
The biggest challenge is with food. Week after week, I give in to my rumbly stomach and get fast food (although last week I was much better about than I have been so far.) Or I didn't pack a snack for the kids and I run in somewhere to grab a snack to go. Not only and I reacting, and not choosing a response, I am not planning ahead. Planning ahead is the other half to "Be Proactive". Do things before they are needed instead of waiting until the last minute. If I know that my day will involve a library trip and a play date at the park, I can plan ahead and pack snacks from home. Taking it a step further, now that I know I want to be more proactive, I can build snacks into our grocery list just to save myself a trip (which is what I did yesterday.)
I always marvel at those moms who have snacks packed for their kids. I think to myself "How do you do it?" Food has historically been an afterthought for me. Now that I have two children who can eat solid foods, as well as children who are active outside the house (parks, library, gymnastics, etc.) it now becomes my "response"-ability to keep them fed on better things than chicken nuggets from McDonald's.
This week, I have many many many things planned that take us outside the home. Knowing this, I can plan ahead, and be proactive, about what we eat during these trips and how much of my Fun Dollars I spend on food.