Allocating Our Resources at Different Stages of Life

posted by Andrea | 07/22/2013

resources

Most people I know (Dave and I included) have somewhat fixed amounts of time, money, energy, etc.

Yes, there are ways to better manage our time — but we still only get 24 hours a day.

Yes, there plenty of ideas to save more or spend less — but that can only go so far.

Yes, there are ways to boost energy, get more sleep, and be more productive — but somedays, we’re just dog tired!

Almost all the resources I can think of come in fixed amounts and it’s our job to then steward our time, money, energy, etc. to the best of our abilities to meet our needs and the needs of our families.

Sometimes, the decisions are no-brainers and easy to make. However, many times, it can be quite difficult to know the best way to allocate our many resources. And just when you think you’ve figured out the best solution, things change. You enter a new season of life and you need to figure things out all over again!

Sound familiar?

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I know that over the years, Dave and I have both struggled with how to best allocate our time, money, energy, etc… and I can’t tell you how many emails I get from disheartened readers asking for tips on how to save more money for ________ (home renovations, vacations, car, furniture, retirement account) or make more time for ________ (canning, decorating, crafts, family, work, starting a business) or have more energy for _______ (cleaning, freezer cooking, photography, yard work).

As I read the emails, I’m not always sure how to reply or what to say — because I know that in MOST of these situations, the reasons they don’t have enough time, money, or energy for the things they WISH they could do is because they are spending their time, money, and energy on the things they HAVE to do right now.

It’s not that any of us are wasting time watching TV all afternoon, foolishly throwing money away on things we don’t need, or staying up all hours of the night because we have nothing better to do.

Not at all!

We’re spending time mastering science projects, tending to elderly relatives, and baking 12 dozen cookies for the church bazaar.

We’re spending money fixing the brakes on our car, getting braces for our 12 year old, and keeping the refrigerator stocked.

We’re spending energy feeding our babies all hours of the night, working to meet that last deadline, and gearing up for another school year.

 

We don’t purposely try to zero out our time, money, or energy “meters” at the end of every month — it’s just that sometimes life happens and we make the choices we have to make at that moment in time.

I know this is often frustrating, but I think it’s quite normal.

It’s normal for our lives, families, careers, homes, and priorities to change over the years, and as a result, we end up choosing different ways to allocate our time, money, and energy.

And sometimes, we really don’t have much of a “choice” — it’s more like we’re forced into it, but we do what we have to do.

Right?

 

I still remember when Dave and I were first married. We scrimped and saved every last penny in efforts to pay off our student loans ASAP.  We rarely spent money on our house or yard, we got most of our furniture from garage sales or from family and friends, we didn’t have cable, Internet, or home phone, and we used freebie cell phones with the absolute lowest minute plan, no texting, and no data package.

We saved hundreds of dollars a month by being so frugal and were able to pay off all our loans with almost no interest in just a couple years (something we never thought we’d be able to do when we first started out)

And now, it would be impossible for us to live in our farmhouse without spending money on renovations (we knew that when we decided to purchase the house). It would be impossible for me to run a business without the internet, and we’ve definitely enjoyed our iPhones these past couple years!

We also now spend more time, money, and energy on Nora (and other family members) — but don’t spend nearly as much time, money, or energy traveling, going on dates, or doing stuff with friends.

It’s crazy how much our priorities have changed over the past 7 years — and I’m positive our priorities will look different again in another 7 years, which means we will once again be allocating our resources much differently.

Hopefully we’ll be finished with our major house projects and we can put that money towards Christian school tuition. We might have a couple more kids by then, so I’m sure we’ll be spending more on groceries, clothing, and maybe even a few family vacations once kids are old enough to actually enjoy them.

And just think, in 27 years, all our kids will be grown up and our priorities will look different again. Who knows, we might even have a grandchild to spoil by then!

Of course, none of us know exactly what the future will bring –  but no matter what season of life we are in, I think that focusing on our priorities is an important step in deciding just how we should allocate our resources.

Are you committed to having more time for family, volunteering, traveling, or just for yourself? If so, then take a look at how you’re currently spending your time, make a don’t-do list, and consciously evaluate all requests for your time to see if they line up with your priorities.

Are you committed to getting out of debt, paying off your mortgage, saving up for a family vacation, or funding your retirement account? If so, then look for other things you might be able to eliminate from your budget or scale back on.

Are you committed to having more energy and feeling healthier? If so, then figure out some way to squeeze in a few more hours of sleep (even if it means hiring a babysitter), make some healthy food substitutions, and find a friend who will keep you accountable to exercise a couple times a week.

There really is no “right” or “wrong” way for YOU to allocate YOUR resources — it just depends on your priorities — which will most likely keep changing along with your season of life!

So if you feel disheartened because you don’t have enough time, money, or energy for something you’d really like to do; realize that it’s most likely because you’re spending your hard-earned time, money, and energy on something much more important (although maybe not as fun) for your current season of life.

Have you also noticed that you allocate resources differently as the stages of your life change?

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9 comments

  1. Pamela

    07/22/2013

    Another awesome post. Thank you, Andrea. Keep up the good work! Yours is the first blog I read every day. Sometimes I even check on the weekends hoping there will be something (wishful thinking, I know!). :) Have a wonderful day!

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  2. Charlene Uchtman

    07/22/2013

    You write like a wise old person! LOL It’s refreshing to hear a younger person with a “big picture” mentality. For example, paying off your student loans which laid the foundation for what you can accomplish with your money today. We just can ‘t skip that part, and parts like that and think everything is going to fall into place!
    Another thought I’ve had when it comes to how we spend our resources, is that I sometimes “self medicate” with good things, like organizing, cleaning, filing, or whatever my “comfort food” of the day might be, something that makes me feel good about myself, while I may be avoiding the hard thing that I might need to do to get to where we want to go, like confronting a family issue, or going back to school. Mentally and personality wise I am a logical person, but psychologically I have a whole different rational.
    My challenge is most often, simply being honest with myself about how I feel. For example, I might put something on my to-do list because I think I “should” want to do it, when I really don’t and it won’t get done unless I resolve the conflict in my emotions. It is much easier to just keep marking other stuff off my list and getting my perks from that. I’m almost 59 and even after years of goal setting, I still find identifying the things to do that will move me toward my goals, as opposed to just doing, is the hardest part of decision making. I’m working very hard so I’ll reach my goals right? Not necessarily.

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    Evie Reply:

    Andrea, thank you for this post, which is so timely for me at age 68.

    Charlene, your reply speaks directly to me, too. Sometimes I feel fragmented, as though I don’t “sort” very well, and that I’m always doing bits and pieces of things instead of taking each task to a satisfying completion. Very frustrating. I prioritize and re-prioritize daily (hourly) because of circumstantial or personal constraints like weather extremes or my chronically hurt foot and failing eyesight, and I end up feeling not very effective. Then (am I rationalizing? letting myself off the hook?) I realize that I am moving forward in good faith to do my best, and I can only do what I can do…and I think that’s truth, not rationalization.

    Charlene, I guess what I’m saying is don’t be too hard on yourself. Avoidance is an indicator of need, I think. Give yourself a slot of time for true goal oriented behavior, but to me it’s OK to make time for “avoidance” activities and enjoy and find rest in them.

    A thought about the challenge of being honest–I dumped SHOULD a long time ago and instead only consider HAVE TO, WANT TO, CAN’T and WON’T. LOL Just something to think about.

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    Charlene Uchtman Reply:

    Evie, you brought some grace to what I was trying to say. I totally agree.

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  3. Janice

    07/22/2013

    Some years ago I read an essay called “Tyranny of the Urgent” which seems to correctly address the issue of having to do some things either because they are urgent at that period of life or we think they are urgent. I like to evaluate every so often to determine if something in my life is truly urgent and necessary or is a waste. Wish I could remember the author of that piece. It was from a Christian training group called The Navigators.

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    Diana Reply:

    http://www.navigators.org/us/ministries/college/navfusion/assets/Tyranny%20of%20the%20Urgent%20Hummel.pdf Here is a link to the “Booklet”

    Both of my children work with The Navigators in their collegiate ministry.

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  4. Tara

    07/22/2013

    A wonderful post. In my walk with the Lord lately He has been bringing me back to this idea of seasons in life and how when I acknowledge the season I’m currently in and flow with it I offer myself more grace and am much more content. I also love Charlene’s and Evie’s comment. Really rich material here. I will refer back to this post again I am certain.

    Blessings on you today Andrea. :-)

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  5. CityGirlCountryBloke

    07/22/2013

    Great post. I was just thinking about this yesterday because I feel as though the 48 hours I get off on the weekends are usually spent doing things that I don’t want to necessarily do but that I have to do because of one reason or another, i.e. kiddos, save money, etc. I spent 4 hours picking up a playground on Saturday that I found on Craigslist for $75 for my children. I would rather be antiquing, gardening, or canning but right now, at this point in my life, my kids are my everything. And in 18 years when they have moved on with their lives, I’m going to wish I didn’t have so much time to can or decorate or garden. I’m going to long for the time I spent with them as children and I will cherish those moments until the day I die. Because when my time has come to an end, I definitely won’t care about how my house looks or if I perfected the art of gardening or canning. I will only think of my children and be proud.

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  6. Dallas

    07/24/2013

    Such a great post! I think this is such a helpful way to think about goals and any sort of planning … I haven’t read an approach like this before and I really love it. Thanks as always for your down-to-earth, insightful posts!

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