Is Your Addiction to Being Busy Costing You Money?

tired-my-personal-finance-journeyThe following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Melissa Batai.  Melissa is a freelance writer who covers topics ranging from personal finance to business to organics to food.  She blogs at Mom’s Plans where she shares her family’s journey to healthier living and paying down debt.

My name is Melissa, and I’m addicted to being busy.  There.  I said it out loud.  I have an addiction to being busy, which has only gotten worse in the last three years that I’ve been homeschooling my kids.

There are so many great activities, co-ops, etc., for the kids that saying “no” is hard.  Inevitably, I overbook our schedule one semester, and we limp through, exhausted.  The next semester, I’m wiser, and then I cut our responsibilities down to the bare minimum so we can spend more time at home.  But the semester after that, recharged, I overcommit again.

It’s a bad cycle, but, unfortunately, I’m not alone.

If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably overly busy, too.  According to Dr. Gina Manguno-Mire, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Tulane University Health Sciences Center, “America is an achievement-oriented culture.  Success is defined by accomplishment, and that mindset starts at a very early age.  Today, we see both kids and adults who are so structured that they just don’t seem to know what to do with free time, so they fill it with activities” (Health Fitness Magazine).

Sound familiar?

But it gets worse.  Our addiction to busyness is costing us money in a myriad of ways, both short and long-term.

Short Term

In the short term, busyness costs us money on a daily basis.  We have to pay for the activities we’re involved in, and we spend additional money as we look to save time and we lose track of the items that we already have.

Activity Expense

Being in many different activities costs a lot of money.  Right now, my kids are in archery, photography, and citizenship 4-H groups.  They’re also in two homeschool co-ops.  The expense of all of these activities easily cost us $500 extra this semester.

It’s a bit ironic that to overbook yourself with activities costs money, and then once you’re too busy you spend too much money on the following items:

Convenience foods

When we’re busy, we don’t have as much time to cook, so we rely on restaurants, fast foods, and quick convenience foods.  All of those food sources typically cost much more than if we made a nice, basic meal at home.

Even though my family is very busy right now, I’m still cooking at home, which is good.  However, I am spending more on food because I find myself buying things like already chopped cauliflower for cauliflower “rice” instead of processing it myself or buying more lunch meat for quick lunches instead of eating the from-scratch lunches we usually make.

Gas

Running around town for activity after activity causes you to use more gas.  While gas prices are reasonable now, this expense can really hit your wallet when gas prices are $3 or more per gallon.  Still, I’m easily spending $20 to $30 more per month on gas than I do during quieter semesters.

In addition, because I’m using the car more, I have to have oil changes and tune ups more frequently than I would if we had a quieter, simpler schedule.

Buying more items than you need

Let’s face it.  When you’re too busy, you don’t have as much time to clean.  Clutter may build up, and it’s hard to find the items you need.  You may unknowingly buy one or two of an item that you already have but have forgotten that you own or simply can’t find.

My son has been too busy to really clean his room the last few months.  However, last weekend, he had a little free time, and he found two items he thought he had lost that we were planning to purchase again—his arm guard for archery, and his calligraphy pen for calligraphy.  True, if we had to buy these items again, we would have only spent approximately $20, but that’s $20 we shouldn’t have had to spend because we already owned the items.

When losing items and buying them again because you can’t find them becomes a habit, you could be wasting hundreds of dollars every year.

Long Term

While the short-term expenses can add up, the long-term expenses of being addicted to busyness are really budget busters.

Medical expenses

Your body may be affected by your schedule because you may not be sleeping as well, and you may not be eating as well as you should as evidenced by the many convenience foods you may rely on.  Both lack of sleep and reliance on convenience or fast food can lead to weight gain, which leads to medical conditions like high triglycerides, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.

Busyness causes stress, and stress can lead to a host of health problems if you aren’t already suffering from health problems because of lack of sleep and weight gain.  Being addicted to busyness may result in the need for prescription medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.  If the stress is unmitigated, it may eventually lead to heart attacks and strokes years down the road.

Wear and tear on your vehicle

I mentioned the expense of more frequent oil changes and tune ups in the short term effects, but the long term effect is that your vehicle wears out more quickly.  If you weren’t driving to as many locations, your car might last you 15 years, if you choose.  However, an accelerated life styles means you add on the miles more quickly, cutting several years off the time you can keep your car in good working condition.

A perpetual cycle of busyness

Over the last two weeks, my family and I have carved some downtime into our busy schedule.  I noticed that my kids really didn’t know what to do with themselves or their free time.  When kids and adults are always busy, we don’t know how to entertain ourselves or how to lose ourselves in a project or an interest we’d like to pursue.

Children who are being raised this way will naturally crave busyness, and all of the related stress, pressure, and financial burden that goes with it, as they grow older.  This simply perpetuates the cycle of busyness.

According to journalist Tim Kreider, in his 2012 article for The New York Times, The Busy Trap, “‘Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness.’  Some people actively create their hectic lifestyle because they dread ‘what they might have to face in its absence’” (Health Fitness Magazine).

What Should You Do If You Want to Break the Busy Cycle?

My family and I have been in this super busy cycle for just two months, and we have two months to go before it’s over.  We’ve already decided to cut our responsibilities in half for upcoming semesters so we can enjoy our activities and our lives.

However, if you’ve been in a busy cycle for much longer, slowing down isn’t always easy.  Dr. Manguno-Mire says, “It is important to remember that busier does not necessarily mean happier.”  She advises “taking a ‘gut check,’ especially when feeling overwhelmed.  ‘Be present and mindful in your own life.  Ask yourself, what am I doing?  What meaning do I derive from this?  Create support systems, and carve out unstructured time every day, even if it is just half an hour.  Set boundaries with technology.  All these things help counteract the effects of stress.  And ask yourself this—who really needs to be busy and available 24/7?” (Health Fitness Magazine).

How about you all? Are you addicted to busyness?  If so, are you still in the busyness trap?  If not, how did you learn to slow down?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy https://pixabay.com/en/tired-axhausted-woman-female-377438/

Affordable Ways to Take Care of your Health While being a Workaholic

workaholic-my-personal-finance-journeyThe following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Chonce. You can read more articles by Chonce over at her personal blog, My Debt Epiphany. Enjoy! 

I’ve always been known to be a workaholic like most other Americans who dream of seeing better days for their finances. Getting into debt during college prompted me to start hustling on the side of my full-time job more and luckily, work has picked up tremendously. I work an average of 60 hours per week spread across each day.

Not having any official off days can take its’ toll on anyone, but I know I’m not the only one embracing the hustle. According to Fortune.com, American employers offer the least amount of paid time off compared to European companies. Yet and still, U.S. employees typically leave about 429 million paid vacation days on the table every year.

Last year I had an unexpected minor surgery that woke me up by telling me I need to put more time and energy into my health as opposed to all the hours I was putting into work. Taking time off for yourself and focusing on your health is so important because without your health, you can’t work and bring in an income anyway.

Here are 5 affordable ways to take care of your health when you’re a goal-drive workaholic.

Go for a 10-Minute Walk or Run

Sitting at a desk all day can be extremely damaging to your health. According to Diabetes.org, 67 percent of Americans hate sitting, yet 86% of Americans sit all day at work. Sitting for long periods of time can reduce your metabolism while excessive sitting has been identified as a key factor in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and obesity.

To get on your feet more during the day, you need to squeeze in time to stand, do something active, or simply go for a walk or jog around the block. Getting a routine established will help improve your health over time and possibly even help you obtain that extra energy boost you need throughout the day.

Meditate When You Wake Up

Meditation is great for calming the mind and body along with being a great stress reliever. Stress and anxiety can cause health problems long-term. Whether you tend to stress out about work, money, or your kids, start your day off on the right foot by meditating for a few minutes and thinking about positive aspects of your life.

You can even keep a gratitude journal and spend a few minutes each day writing in it.

Take a Random Vacation Day or Plan a Rest Day

Don’t be one of those people who don’t take their vacation days. Employers understand that workers need rest which is why they make those days available to you. If you don’t have any relaxing trips planned, take a staycation and just stay at home, relax, catch up on your rest and recharge.

If you don’t have any vacation days available, schedule down time on one of your off days and commit to doing something relaxing.

Eat Whole Foods

What you eat can affect your body, health, and even your attitude so it’s important to make sure you’re putting the right things in your body. Eating a diet filled with whole foods, fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can cost significantly less than expensive processed foods.

Start your day off with a nutritious breakfast and meal plan during the weekend so you won’t be tempted to buy quick and unhealthy foods due to the convenience and being short on time. You can also try smoothies by blending your favorite fruit with a bland vegetable like spinach or kale to work more whole and healthy foods into your diet to give your body the fuel it needs.

Make Time for Annual Health Exams

It’s Important to schedule time for regular physical exams with a healthcare professional each year. Preventative screenings and check-ups can help identify any problems that could occur later down the road and keep your body at its’ absolute healthiest state.

Plus, as long as you have insurance, most annual checkups should be covered so you won’t have to spend much.

Getting a check-up last year was one of the best things I could have done to maintain my health because it let me know that I needed to have a preventative surgery to eliminate developing cancer when I got older. It’s a scary thought for a young person in their twenties, but it’s better to be aware of what’s going on in your body and be committed to keeping it healthy.

No matter what your work or financial goals are (as I know they can seem overwhelming at times), it’s always best to prioritize your health and make time to improve it.

How about you all? Do you consider yourself a workaholic? How do you make time and put forth the effort to maintain your health without spending lots of money?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/tashmahal/2731681028/