women

Dealing with the Necessities of Life : Setting Aside Time for the Basics (part 1) - Making Money

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If taking care of the basics sounds tedious to you, remember that a little time invested to make your family's basic life run smoothly will allow everyone to enjoy the special activities even more. In this section, you'll learn how to build a schedule that accommodates the demands of your job, along with the necessities of caring for your family, your pets, and your home.

Things You'll Need 

  • An 8 1/2- by 11-inch spiral notebook

  • Your family's planner

  • Pen/pencil

  • Calculator

  • Calendar

Making Money

Unless you're independently wealthy, making sure you have enough money to feed and shelter your family has to be a top priority. Making enough money and managing the money you make both come into play as you work to establish your family's financial well-being. And every decision you make about your family's financial situation has an effect on your family's schedule.

Your Primary Income

When you have a job, a certain amount of your time is no longer under your control. You need to subtract the hours you're required to be at work from the 168 hours with which you started. If you work a 40-hour/week job, that means you're down to 128 hours. Obviously, if you work a longer or shorter week, then you need to adjust accordingly. Commuting time and lunch time become somewhat restricted as well, although a little later we'll look at some ways to make these times more productive for you personally.

KIDS AND SCHOOL

For your school-age children, attending school is their work. The school sets the days and hours that your children must be there, and you need to block out that time on their schedules. Just as the time your boss expects you to be at work is not yours, the time the school district expects your children to be at school is not theirs.


Supplemental Jobs

In today's economy, many families feel that they cannot make ends meet on just one salary. So, the one adult in the family takes on multiple jobs, both adults in the family have jobs, or both adults take on more than one job. Unfortunately, multiple jobs often result in a case of diminishing returns; the adults work longer hours with little or no increase in the family's disposable income.

To avoid this pitfall of diminishing returns, when evaluating a second—or third or fourth—job, you should look at it from a couple of angles. First, consider the reason for the supplemental employment. Ask yourself the following questions:


  1. Am I taking this job because I really enjoy the work?

  2. Is it important for me to have this job so I can stay current in my chosen field or so I can return to my career when the kids are grown?

  3. Will this job help me set an example for my children about our family's work ethic or the ability for everyone to be gainfully employed?

  4. Am I taking this job because the family needs more money?

If you answered “Yes” to one or more of the first three questions but answered “No” to question number 4, then this job may really be more of an enrichment activity  than a source of supplemental income.

If you answered “Yes” only to question number 4, then you need to evaluate your situation in light of the example set forth in Table 1.

Table 1. How Much Money Are You Keeping from Your Family's Second Income?
Income/ExpenseAmountBalance
Earnings  
40 hours/week × 50 weeks = 2,000 hours @ $13/hour26,00026,000
Taxes (federal, state, local)  
25%6,50019,500
Day care  
$150/week × 50 weeks7,50012,000
Work clothes  
4 new outfits/year @ $350 apiece1,40010,600
Dry cleaning for work clothes  
$10/week × 50 weeks50010,100
Extra lunches out  
1/week @ $10 apiece × 50 weeks5009,600
Extra family dinners eaten out  
3/week @ $50 apiece × 50 weeks7,5002,100
Gasoline  
10 miles/day × 250 days @$2/gallon, 25 mpg2001,900
House cleaning service  
$50/week × 52 weeks2,600(700)

If, instead of taking this second job, you stayed home and spent one day a week cleaning the house, at the end of the year, you'd come out $700 and 1,600 hours ahead.

Your income and expenses will vary from the example, but you should never take extra employment without first doing a cost/benefit analysis of the situation.

Trimming Expenses

You should consider these other ways that good scheduling can help you trim your expenses:

  • Save gasoline, wear and tear on your car, and impulse purchasing by consolidating errands.

    note

    The 5-in-1 Minimi$er Organizer combines an activity calendar, menu planner, grocery list, budget, and reward system on one 11- by 17-inch page per month. Suggested retail: $14.95. Website: www.onlineorganizing.com


  • Pay your bills on time and eliminate late-payment penalties.

  • Eliminate meals eaten out because of lack of meal planning.

  • Maintain your house on a regular schedule and avoid costly repair bills.

  • Incorporate exercise into your other activities and save gym fees (see Table 2).

    Table 2.  Accomplishing More by Doing Less
    Plan 1  Plan 2  
     TimeCost TimeCost
    1. Hire service to mow lawn for 6 months. $4501. Buy push lawnmower.2 hrs.$250
    2. Join health club for 6 months. $3002. Mow lawn for 1 hour a week for 6 months.26 hrs. 
    3. Buy equipment (clothes for health club).2 hrs.$150   
    4. Drive to and from health club (8 miles) once a week for 6 months.8 hrs.$60[*]   
    5. Exercise for 1 hour a week for 6 months.26 hrs.    
    Totals36 hrs.$960[**] 28 hrs.$250[***]

    [*] Also consider the negative impact on the environment.

    [**] This amount might increase in succeeding years.

    [***] This amount will decrease in succeeding years.

Investing Your Savings
Now that you've created some savings, it's important that you don't just let them sit idly or, worse, get absorbed into your regular spending without being noticed. Be sure you take the important first step by incorporating money management as an activity on your schedule. 
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