Prioritizing

I want to have a brief discussion about prioritizing, mostly because I have always been awful at it and it relates to finances.

Right now my awful prioritizing refers to the 10,000 projects I have on my plate relating to Artistic Financial Planning, school, grad school, my health and maintaining a job, a relationship and friendships. I don’t know which should come first and second and when I should give up something in favor of something else. I hate that this indecisiveness often leads to me just putting out fires instead of focusing and accomplishing a set of tasks.

I remember days of unemployment when I would accomplish so much and feel so proud of myself. I wasn’t in super great mental or physical shape and was struggling with the boredom of simply maintaining a household, but laundry was always done, bills were paid and life felt manageable on a day-to-day basis.

My best friend has expressed concern over me burning out while I go through grad school. I have a hard enough time managing 50 hour weeks in rehearsal with one class let alone trying to do 3-4 classes a semester. And it’s true that once I get into performance, things get accomplished much easier, but I also just have a hard time making a routine and sticking to it since random appointments crop up and fill the hours suddenly.

So now for the next few months until I officially start grad school (when and wherever that is, I have barely started the applications), I’m going to work on making sure I can prioritize easier. So when I look at my to-do list I can more easily pick out what needs my attention now and when I can put on the back burner. Andy is constantly telling me that I worry about things when then aren’t even a blip on the radar of concern, which can lead to a lot of anxiety over things that are months or even years away.

I’m sure we can all relate to this financially. Should I be saving for retirement? Should I really go out to eat for lunch? I feel guilty that I spent money on a latte when I obviously should be paying down my credit card debt.

Yes, all of those feelings are totally legitimate and it is ok to feel a little overwhelmed by your finances sometimes. The things that you “want” to do versus the things you “should” do and the habits you just can’t seem to break.

First, stop beating yourself up. Criticizing your inability to stop buying fancy coffees is not going to help you save for retirement. It makes you feel helpless and makes it even harder to do that financial thing you want to do since you have already associated it with such negative feelings. Feelings that have made it feel impossible in your eyes and instead of it being part of your life it is now a hurdle you have to overcome in order to be “successful” financially.

Second, do a gut check. I know I am an incredibly fast processor. I can think about something and know almost instantaneously what I want to do or how I want to handle something. It’s part of what makes my insanely long to-do so hard to tackle because I feel like I should always be able to do more than I can actually do. And you may be, too. Or you may be someone who needs a few days to think something over.

Either way stop and think about what you’re honestly concerned about with your finances and tackle whatever comes up first. Is it your looming credit card debt? Then come up with a plan to pay it off. Is it your student loans? Figure out how to pay them down. Is it that your car is about to die? Do some research about the cost of a new car.

Your gut can tell you a lot, but we ignore it because we often don’t have time to focus in on the one thing that could ease our mind. It usually sets off a storm of all the concerns we have on the planet. So the next time you start to spiral about your finances, stop, take a breath, and just be quiet. The real problem will surface and then you can work up a plan.

And if you’re stumped, call me. I will gladly help you come up with a plan and walk you through a gut-check.

A few reminders!
Make sure you read my post on Needs vs Wants and post a comment to be entered to win a FREE Household Budgeting session.

Also, if you have a Q&A Thursday question, you can now get a discount on a comprehensive (15%) or specific (10%) planning session related to your question.

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