Belated Spring Cleaning

It’s time for the big reveal: I’m not a fan of spring cleaning.

Once I’ve finally dug in and begun the process, I enjoy organizing shelf space and rearranging household supplies so they’re easier to find. When it’s over, I’m always glad it’s done, and I love that when I want something, it’s right at my fingertips. Yet, if you asked me what my least favorite five tasks around the house would be, cleaning closets and organizing the garage would be near the top.

I mention this because the other day someone mentioned that for her, financial organization is like a trip to the dentist. She dreads the process and can’t wait for it to be over. My friend said that she’d much rather focus on her craft than organize her money. She loves the tools that I’ve made available and the coaching that she receives, but in the end she cried, “Miata, why can’t someone just do it for me?”

Ouch.

Let’s be clear. Most of my audience isn’t in love with the financial planning process. They don’t relish budgeting. I can’t recall any stories about my students jumping out of bed in the morning, clapping hands and screaming, “It’s time to review my car insurance!”  Shockingly, it doesn’t happen. So why do people subject themselves to this process? Why do they endure the pain of learning how to streamline their financial lives? Wise savers know that the same truth about organizing closets applies to their financial picture. Once it’s clean, everything goes more smoothly. Items don’t get lost. Money decisions quicken. Accounts are easier to follow.

A solid financial plan frees up more time for your craft

That’s the heart of the matter, isn’t it? Don’t you worry about how to make more time for your most loved activities? Taking the time to organize your financial picture pays dividends that closet cleaning can’t provide. Once your financial house is in order, you’ll find more interest, avoid debt, save money on insurance and scale back the taxes you pay. This additional money buys time away from dead-end time-wasters you pursue just to bring home a check.

Why do you have to work on your financial picture yourself? Why not hire someone to take the “money ball” and run with it? That one is best explained by a story. A good friend of mine owns 25 rental homes. He began with one and worked his way up. I listened to him talking to a plumber on the phone one day who was fixing a leaky pipe at one of the properties. The plumber was asking for more money, saying that the job was going to be a horrible mess and take many man hours.

At this point my friend surprised me—and probably surprised the plumber. He calmly explained the technical aspects of the job that would need to be accomplished. He told the plumber that he knew it could be done in only a few hours, and he could easily find someone else if the plumber wasn’t willing to fix the problem for the agreed quote.  The plumber backed down immediately.

After he hung up, I asked, “How did you know all that about plumbing? You don’t have time to know those details.”

He said, “The first several homes I did everything myself. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to become a plumber. I knew that someday I wouldn’t have time to do everything, so I learned as much as possible about how it worked so I could quickly diagnose problems and oversee my hired help efficiently. I can’t have people taking advantage of me.”

That’s why you can’t just “hire someone to do it.” Sure, when we’re reading about you in the newspaper, maybe it’ll make sense to hire people. But you don’t want to blindly trust strangers with money without knowing what they’re doing, do you? It’s true that you won’t know everything about every topic, but to gain a rudimentary understanding of the financial process will pay dividends for your art. Especially when your dreams become reality and you’re so busy with your career that you will need to hire help.

So, in short, I know it’s after Memorial Day and my closets still need work. If you’re like me, every once in awhile it’s good to have someone remind you how important spring cleaning—now “early summer cleaning”—can be if you want to free up time for your craft. Like organizing a closet, find a good system today and it’ll pay for itself down the road.

Enough reading….let’s go clean that garage and that checkbook!

2011-06-02T06:00:20+00:00