Here are some handy tips to help you quickly manage your financial affairs

Have a busy life? Here’s how to make time for your finances

For many people, managing their own finances is a complex affair that takes too much time in their busy schedule. And when people start seeing personal finance as complex, the fear of it can propel them to procrastinate, and push it to a later date to be resolved ‘some other time’.

But with procrastination comes stress: unnecessary time is spent on organising papers, locating misplaced documents, and digging out data – just to understand where things stand. By then one is just too exhausted to take the right call or make the required changes properly.

Sounds familiar? Feel you’ve been there? If so, you must ensure it doesn’t happen again; take some time off to streamline your financial affairs. It will help cut expenses, increase financial security, and rid you of stress. Here are some ways you can go about reorganising your financial affairs without having to upset your busy schedule.

1. Trust your emotional intelligence

Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, is a person’s ability to learn, and it remains the same even when they age. In other words, you aren’t any more intelligent at 50 than you were at 15. On the other hand, emotional intelligence is a flexible skill set that can be acquired and honed over the years. Some people are inherently more emotionally intelligent than others, while others improve upon it through constant practice even if they are not naturally gifted with it – like a talented bowler who burnishes his batting skills to legitimately become an all-rounder.

This emotional intelligence often comes into play in money management1 as well; not all rich people are born smart, and it would be a mistake to think people with a high IQ cannot mess up while handling their finances. People also get rich by developing their emotional intelligence. It is all about attitude – the desire to transform failures into successes. So if you’re unable to get your personal finances in order, make a conscious effort to find the time.

2. Be organised and disciplined

In June 2017, the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, brought out by the Dutch publishing house Elsevier, published the findings of a survey that sought to answer the question, ‘Does self-control2 predict financial behaviour and financial well-being?’ Its conclusion: ‘People with good self-control are more likely to save money from every paycheck, have better general financial behaviour, be less anxious about financial matters, and feel more secure in their current and future financial situation.’

The study even sampled student behaviour and found that those ‘who were successful in resisting temptation and delayed gratification were more successful in almost every outcome measured’ – achieving higher SAT scores, educational attainment, a sense of self-worth, and the ability to cope with stress. In other words, if you want to be a good financial administrator, make the effort to bring order in your financial affairs; take a day off from work if necessary to prepare a budget – including disposable income, net income, recurring expenses, and outstanding debts, if any. 

See how much you need to keep aside as savings for various purposes (buying a house, making investments, retirement fund etc). Try to live by this; a busy schedule does not mean you cannot be disciplined.

3. Automate your financial management

This is the 21st century, and digital technology rules; use it to the fullest to simplify your financial life. Most Indian banks have their own banking apps3 these days, and in all likelihood, your bank has it too. With this app, you can manage your bank accounts on-the-go; check your account on the web to track where your money is going. With mobile banking, you can also carry out balance inquiries, account transactions, utility payments, etc.

Recent studies have shown that the use of financial apps for other financial activities too is gathering momentum4 at a rapid pace in India (such as registering a y-o-y growth of 43% in 2016). There is a reason for it too: there are apps that can help the user execute a number of routine financial management activities, such as analysing their expenses and managing money. In the process, they save precious time that would otherwise have been spent on routine tasks. 

You can also automate a host of other5 personal financial management activities such as saving, investing, and paying bills. For example, bills that turn up on a regular basis (electricity bills, for example) can be automatically charged to payment cards or deducted from financial accounts. This way, you avoid late payments and save time. 

Once you get the hang of it, you may find yourself taking time off for tax planning, estate planning, and managing your investments, all from the comfort of your room. In your busy schedule, that should be a massive plus.

Last words

Managing personal finances can be a headache for many people, and more so if time is a constraint. The trick is to keep a cool head, and plan the tasks in a logical fashion that can help smooth execution: divide the income to pay bills, invest, and save or keep aside for extra expenses. It is not something that has to be done regularly; once the blueprint laying out the income, expenses, and savings is implemented, everything will fall in place.

For this, you do not need to be an expert at financial management; a nodding acquaintance with accounting would be enough. That, plus the discipline and perseverance to plan all the financial operations you intend to carry out. Remember, being a good financial administrator is an excellent skill to have when it comes to buying goods, enduring financially difficult periods, and planning for your golden years.