Stop spinning in that hamster wheel and take some time to think about your priorities in life and what’s important
You’ve got a million things coming at you every day. So many questions come up from paying the bills to getting school clothes for the kids.
Before you know it, you’re 80 years old and wondering what happened with your life.
Your life was such a haze of busy, busy, rush – that you never really sat down and thought about what was important.
That’s why I sat down with Miranda Marquit, a financial expert and life coach, to find out why people have such a hard time figuring out their priorities. In this exclusive interview, Miranda reveals how to break the daily cycle that keeps you going in circles and how to start living your life according to what’s important!
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Finding Your Priorities in Work and Life
Joseph: My guest today has been writing about money for more than a decade, which in blogging terms, makes her pretty legendary.
Today's interview is with Miranda Marquit. Miranda started working from home as a freelance writer in 2006, shortly after completing her Master's in journalism. To that point, most of what she knew about money was just from past mistakes.
Where a lot of people have a hard time learning from mistakes, Miranda dug-in to learn everything she could about personal finance and smarter ways to manage her money. She's since written for or been mentioned in USA Today, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites.
So hey, Miranda, thanks for being here with us today and offering some of your experience.
Miranda: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.
Joseph: One of the things that you write about and that's helped me make sense of this hectic work-life balance and money questions is about priorities, finding the value in their life.
Why do you think people have such a big problem following their priorities and why is it so important?
Miranda: I think a lot of time we don't think about money in terms of priorities, right? We think about money in terms of, “I've got to pay the bills,” and “Oh my gosh! I wish I had more money.” And that's how we think about money, right? We think about it in terms of what we have to do with it or how we don't have enough of it rather than think of thinking of it in terms of, “Okay, how can money help me achieve what I want for my life?”
I didn't approach money this way either at first. A lot of the time we just think about it in terms of, “Alright, I've got to make sure the rent is paid, I've got to make sure I buy the groceries, I want to make sure I pay the insurance, all the stuff needs to be taken care of and I don't have enough,” and “My gosh, how can I get more?”
It's stressful and we don't stop and think about, “Well what do I wish my life looks like? How can I use money to help me get to that point?”
So a lot of time we are reacting to money and we are reacting to what we are supposed to be doing with our money rather than taking an active role and in directing our money.
Joseph: No, I love that. I think what I see a lot in investing with talking with people about their investments is, they are aiming for that arbitrary and number like one million dollars to save for retirement, when they should be thinking about, you know, what's that money for? Those priorities and I think, putting it into that perspective the priorities, what do you want out of your money, is hugely motivational to help you get there and. And no, I believe that entirely.
How Can People Think about Their Life Priorities and Money?
Joseph: What are some priorities that people may not think about when they are trying to give their lives direction? What are some of the things that are important to us that maybe we don't immediately think of when we are creating that list of priorities?
Miranda: I think some of the stuff like giving to charity sometimes falls by the wayside when you are putting this together. One of the things that happens when I talk to people is they don't have the time to do it because they are working because of money.
I think one of the things people forget about is you can also arrange your schedule, arrange the way you make money or handle money to buy more time. One of the things I do is I think about it in terms of I pay a cleaning service to come and clean my house. That gives me two and a half hours back of my life each week that I can use.
I can use an hour of that to make more money and pay for the cleaning and still have a free hour and a half. If I had to tried to pay somebody to clean my house 10 years ago, it probably wouldn't have worked that well. I had to build up to that and then shift things around first.
I think a lot of people don't think about it in those terms. Because we are always stuck in this, “If you know how to change the oil then you shouldn't take it down to be changed by somebody else, you should just change it yourself and save the 30 bucks.” Well, if I take it someplace else, I take my laptop and I get something done and it buys me a half an hour of time.
So it saves me time and I get something extra done and then later on I have time to do something else. I do homework with my son, go volunteer or just to sit and read.
What are Some Important Financial Priorities?
Joseph: Well, how about financial priorities? What are some of the important ones that people might have?
Miranda: I think a lot of people forget about insurance and the importance of insurance and asset protection because we are not thinking in terms of what would go wrong down the road, but it's a very important priority to have. So I think a lot of people neglect insurance.
I think a lot of people, especially when they first start out with a business or being self-employed, they forget about taxes.
I know I did. My very first tax time after being a freelancer, I was like, “Wow! What happened here?” And it’s because I didn't pay quarterly taxes
I think a lot of people forget to look ahead at what extracurricular activities are their kids going to have or just planning the little stuff.
How to Set a Focus on Your Priorities
Joseph: Sure. You've got to have that balance between your future priorities and living for today. Excellent! So how can people focus on those priorities? With hectic schedules and the demands coming from pretty much every direction, how do people keep their lives centered on their priorities and not get distracted by everything else?
Miranda: I like to use kind of a model where I sit down and plan the weekend look at the week ahead. There's always stuff that pops up and you can't always plan for everything all the time.
But I do like to look at what's coming in the week ahead, and I like to sit back and say, “Okay, what's happening?” A couple times a year I like to sit back and say, “Okay, let's do a quick review of what I spent money on and have I started to drift off of my priorities?”
I try to always make decisions based a simple question, “How is this going to help me meet my needs, plan for my future goals or enjoy today?”
What Happens When Your Family Doesn’t Share Your Priorities?
Joseph: What happens when your priorities don't match up in the family? How can a couple balance those priorities that might seem conflicting at times?
Miranda: Back when I was married, we did have this problem because I’m an experiences person and my ex is a things person.
One isn't better than the other. They are just different ways you want to spend your money and different things that matter to you. We ended up just kind of having a sort of compromise in that we got to the point where we just started to take turns.
Joseph: Oh yeah. I think as long as the first step is the understanding that those priorities don't match up and that you need to find the balance between the two. Sure!
Miranda: Yeah, the understanding the thought process behind the different types of spenders is important and finding some kind of compromise.
Now it gets harder when your long-term, lifetime priorities don’t match up. If you’re just different types of spenders, you can compromise, but when life goals don’t match up you have to make tougher decisions.
That’s when you need to find the shared priorities to balance out the conflicting ones and really build from that.
Finding those lifelong priorities, especially when it comes to money, is so important but it’s not something we usually think about. We spend our whole lives running on a hamster wheel and at the end finally ask ourselves, “Did I really want to be on that wheel in the first place?” Spend some time to find your priorities in life and your financial priorities and you’ll live a much happier, fulfilling life!
About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.