Monday, 1 June 2015

Why Being Busy Might Be Making You Broke


I learnt a very important lesson last month - being busy is going to cost me my wealth in the long run.

You might be thinking, why do I say that? Isn't being busy one of the best ways to save money? After all, when we're busy, we have lesser time to spend money on entertainment, frivolous shopping, etc.

While that is true, but let's also consider the other side of the coin. When we're overscheduled, we're also more likely to pay for convenience (and other things we barely notice).


Last month was an incredibly busy period for me, due to an increase in my workload resulting in multiple days of OT, extra dance rehearsals, and several one-off social activities that came up (baby showers and birthday parties, etc). But it wasn't until I did my monthly reflections on Expense Manager that I realized how much being busy was costing me.

My monthly expenditure had escalated from $600+ to $1000! A big part of this increase was on transport, where I spent $250 (twice of my usual monthly average) in just last month alone. Where did all that money go to?


No time? Take a taxi!

That is a common mindset many of us adopt when we get busy (or sometimes lazy), and it happened to me as well. When we are in the moment, it seems reasonable and a fair price to pay in exchange for time. For instance, spending $15 on a 20-minute taxi ride from Bukit Panjang to Boon Lay for my dance practice made more sense than taking a 70-minute bus-->train-->bus journey, especially since my work ends only 30 minutes before the start of my dance rehearsal. 

It got worse as I realized it was getting harder to flag down taxis on the street. After several occasions of fruitless waiting, I decided it was more worth it to pay $2.80 for the booking fee than to waste time trying to flag down one myself. That started another dangerous cycle and habit that I became trapped in.

Upon reflecting, I realized these are the biggest culprits draining our wallet when we become too busy:

1. Buying time and convenience.


The frequency of us taking a taxi in Singapore is also directly proportional to how busy we are. When our schedules are so packed with activities, any delay results in us having to take a cab down in order to make it to our next appointment in time. With apps like GrabTaxi and Uber nowadays, many are even booking their cabs instead of spending the time flagging it down on the street, in order to save on that "waiting time".

2. Eating out.

When we're busy, we are more willing to spend on eating out and takeaways for convenience. I love my $2.80 coffee shop breakfast set, but found myself spending on Macdonalds $4+ breakfasts instead because it was faster and more convenient to buy. It didn't hurt that the taste was mildly addictive too.

3. Paying late fees.

During a busy period, we can often forget to pay our bills in time, which incurs late fines or hefty interest rates. Earlier this year, I missed paying my credit card and telco bills as I was too tied up with work, and that cost me quite a bit.

4. Rewards after a long & busy day.


We become less mindful of where we're spending our money when we become more busy, as we have less time to think about our spending decisions. We all know that working professional who goes to the spa to relax or treats herself to a good dinner after a busy day at work. While there is nothing wrong with this, the problem comes when the frequency of such spending increases as the number of such busy days in our life increases.

I can spend money to "buy" time, but I don't always get paid for my time. My income didn't rise in May, but my spending multiplied.


It is time to cut down on being so busy, so I have a bit more time to watch my expenses again.

Is being busy killing your wallet too?

8 comments:

  1. for late cc bills, u can call the banks up to waive.

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    1. Thanks for highlighting that! In my experience, the banks don't always waive it off though. Also, therein is a dilemma that if we are too busy such that we're missing our credit card payment deadlines, we also don't have the time to call up the banks and be put on hold + spend time negotiating with them on waiving it off.

      Easiest way would definitely to avoid late payments in the first place.

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    2. yea of cos prevention is always better than cure. for my case, once i received the monthly statement, i will log in to my online acc and make a dated payment ( that means u can instruct the bank to pay from your cash acc on a particular date, i am using OCBC 360 acc btw.. i am not sure if other banks have such function).

      of cos occasionally there are times that i will miss out some cc bills. since i have about 4-5 cc from different banks to settle every month. i will just give them a call and request for waiver and usually it will succeed, dont even need to nego. some banks call centre just require to press some buttons on the phone to request.. dont even need to talk to any CSOs...

      Actually, 'too bz' or 'don have time' erm.. i think its more like an excuse. i will pay more attention to such payment dates since interest is quite hefty.

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    3. That is definitely a good practice. I sometimes have trouble doing it on the day itself, but will delay for no longer than a week to pay my bills. Started doing this after I missed a few payments when I first started using my credit cards, and man, did the interest amount to a lot!

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    4. Ic.if u cant do it on the day itself, hmm maybe u can make it like every sat mornings ( or any other time) to settle every bills. I hope u can actually using online banking acc to make online payments rather than going to AXS machines like most uncles/aunties doing which waste time.
      just keep all the paper bills u receive in a folder in bright color and put it on somewhere prominent . Once the new month comes, throw away the old bills to make room for new bills.
      gotta develop the discipline to review your cc bills. hope this helps.

      now pple use cards to earn $ rebates, so if cc bills keep making u wasting extra money to pay for late payments, then there is really no point in using cards .

      jiayou!

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  2. I think it's okay to prioritise time over money. I never understood how people can stand enduring a 2-3hr traffic jam to JB just save on petrol and groceries!

    Speaking of cabs, Uber is a great way to save money. I promote my Uber coupon for readers to sign up and I earn Uber credits. The readers, after taking their first Uber cabs, get to share their coupon code within their social networks to earn more Uber credits too.

    Check out how 'guest blogger' OT warrior shares his Taxi Savings Hack on my blog : http://bfgfmoneyblog.com/taxi-fare-savings-hack/

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  3. Hi Budget Babe,

    I totally agree with u. I am getting really busy lately and keep on traveling at company expense! I should be richer for the month. Apparently not, I use money to buy time and also spend to pamper myself etc

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    1. Hi Rolf, if it is company expense then that isn't too bad! I only take cabs because it is covered by my company, if not, I'll plan in travelling times instead. However, this habit started creeping into my personal life when I travel for other things instead, and that is something I'm going to stop doing if I can help it.

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