You just said something so wonderful, Brian. You said, “For you, wherever you are, time is your most valuable resource.” And I would argue, in the messy middle, that sentence, “Time is your most viable resource,” has so many stinking meanings. I mean, we might mean it for compounding interest; we might mean it for how you spend it, and it is scarce. In the messy middle, it feels really, really scarce. So, if we’re going to talk about all this attention that we’re placing on money and financial decisions, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how much we ought to think about how we are spending and making the most of our time.
So, if you really want to think about making the most of your time, one of the things you have to assess is how am I spending my time? Am I spending my time both in a way that is productive and leads to the results I want to have, but also really focus on the things that actually matter to me, the things that should be important? And how do I understand how to create a balance between family and the commitments on that side of the equation versus career and the commitments on that side of the equation? Because I think in the 30s, it’s really, really easy to get it out of whack one way or the other.
Well, I think when people talk about career balance, I don’t know, it gets a little… This is where I sound like an old man on the front porch. It gets a little soft and squishy. I want to go beyond just the word vomit of throwing out “create work-life balance” because I think it goes beyond that. You need to understand that there are going to be times in your career when you’re going to have to give your time. I mean, that’s part of building in the beginning. I know I come from a public accounting background, and the whole industry is set up that way, especially during tax seasons and other peak periods where you have more work than humans should be doing, stuffed into just not enough days. So, it’s a lot of work. That’s just part of the cycle.
What I’m saying here is the balance. Losing my father when I was in my 20s and seeing that he didn’t get the life… And we see this sometimes with even clients when illness kicks in way earlier than they ever thought. I just want to make sure you have time and a place for each phase of your life. I’m not saying that hard work is not going to occur, long hours are not going to occur, but just do them at the right time. So, if you’re… This is if I was challenging my 20 and even sometimes 30-year-olds who don’t have families… I think that’s your time to put in those hard days, but have the vision that you’re putting in the hard time. Just like it’s no different than investing. If you can do the hard work earlier, it gives you more flexibility when it counts. Because, I know, once you get married, once you start having kids, hopefully, if you did the hard lifting earlier, you get to go to the kids’ school events. You get to potentially coach the Little League. But you’ve got to balance it. Have a vision so that you don’t just go along for the ride and you’re not an active participant.
Because I meet so many… And don’t think I’m picking on your profession, because I know both of these professions are very successful. All my fellow CPAs that stayed in the profession for their entire careers, or my attorney friends that stayed in… I see that sometimes they get caught up in this. It’s like, “The more I work, the more I get paid.” But there’s a lot that comes out of that hard work. And I just want you to have a vision for your career that balances the “when” and “where” so you can create the best version of your life. That way, it sounds better than a sound bite, and it lets you actually look at it over the span of what a work career looks like to create the best version of yourself and also maximize the family. So that just in case you leave earlier than you anticipated, there’s no regret, and there’s still a legacy left with your loved ones.
What I love about that is, if we’re going to split into these two components, the career financial way that you spend your time and all the stuff outside of work, now we talk about families. But maybe that’s not your circumstance. The thing that you’re doing outside of work, I think another thing that you really ought to think about is, how am I maximizing both sides of that equation? So, if I do want to be career-focused, if my job is just a “J-O-B” where I check in at 9, I leave at 5, and I’m living for the weekend, if that’s all you’re doing, are you really utilizing that time as efficiently as possible? On the counterpoint, just like you said, if you’re staying at the office until 8:00 at night, and you’re coming home after bedtime, and you’re leaving the house and you’re traveling, there has to be a balance there.
Well, I think a lot of us, with the best intentions, unintentionally, we allow that balance to get out of whack. This is where I am living this right now. We are seeing this play out presently in the life of the Hansens. You’ve got to choose. I said, “Kids, here we are, outside of work.” But choose the activities that you’re doing outside of work very intentionally. And if you do have children, think about how you’re choosing those activities. While it may be with the best intentions, in an already stressful season of life, it can be adding so much more stress that may or may not be necessary.
I don’t think this is completely avoidable because you want to encourage your kids to go out there, explore, and become the best version of themselves. But it does get amped up when you have multiple kids. Because I see so many of my friends and neighbors stressed out when they have three and four kids, trying to get by. I’m not saying that’s a cut against it. I think it’s actually… I sit next to somebody who’s got one of those larger families, and I think it’s awesome. Even in self-reflection, I kind of wish I had more kids as an older guy now. But it is one of those things where we did the research on this. Look at this: an average of 12 hours a week spent on a child’s athletic activities. Now, when you see that, you’re like, “Well, that’s not even half a day of one of my seven days.” But, Bo, you put it in great context in our show prep meeting. You said, “No, let’s take that into how long a kid is home from school Monday through Friday. What does it look like in that comparison?” This… I thought about it in our life. Your kid gets home at 3:00, and if bedtime is at 8… Ours is at 7, but if bedtime was at 8, that gives you five hours, five days a week, 25 hours. That’s half the time.
And by the way, this doesn’t include eating dinner together, sitting down as a family, working on homework, and a lot of this stuff bleeds into the weekends, like dance competitions. They bleed. And you’re like, “Holy cow, I am losing all this time.” I’m not saying that it’s even bad. I’m just saying if you’re not careful about it, you will wake up one day and say, “Holy cow, I’ve got 400,000 different things to get to, and it’s so stressful, and we’re biting and yelling and arguing, and it’s not peaceful. Is it actually worth it?”
I will say self-reflection, because it hurt my feelings at the time, but looking back, I see why my parents did it. My parents actually sat me down and said, “Son, you’ve got to choose. Some of the… You’ve got to choose between all your extracurriculars. I was doing piano, I was doing sports, and then I had two other things, because my parents were like, ‘We can’t do all the things you’re trying to do, because your mom is being run ragged.’ And I had to choose which ones I was going to do. Did I just say ‘do-do’? Okay, I’m making sure I didn’t turn it into a poop joke. But it is one of those things. I want you to be very intentional so you don’t create heartache and stress for your family.
And by the way, we just talked about time. I feel like I want to focus on time, but I do want to bring it back to there’s a financial cost to all this as well. We did some research, and we found out that extracurriculars, on average, cost $731 per child every year. That seemed low, actually, when I saw that. It does seem low, because I know that especially if your kids are in dance or gymnastics or travel teams, those can get up into the four or even five figures per year, depending on what your child is doing. And again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but I can’t tell you how many folks I see make this decision to put their kid in crazy competitive gymnastics or dance, and the kid does it for a number of years, only to later on, one day, not pursue that. And you look back and you’re like, “Man, was all that time, all that money, was it really worth it to go that hard in that extracurricular? Or could we have still had our child do that and participate in it, maybe not have it be so expensive, both in money and time cost, and we still arrive at the same place?”
And again, this is one of those things. I think we as parents think, “Now I’ve got to make it better for my kid. I didn’t get to do this, I didn’t have that opportunity. I want my kid to be able to do, see, experience, and have it all.” Especially financial mutants who have the means and the mechanism make that available. We do it with really, really good intentions, but sometimes the repercussions of that are not worth it. You wake up and you’re like, “Holy cow, how my baby girl just turned eight? What happened?” Right? And you just don’t want to get to the time when your child is leaving the house and going off to school, and they’re not going to be back in the home anymore. You think, “Holy cow, all we did was spend our time commuting and running, and we missed the actual sweetness.”
I just think it can be dangerous. I do measure twice on making sure the “why” connects. I think that will help you. Two other stats that we didn’t put on a slide, but they’re definitely worth sharing. 62% of parents are definitely stressed out because of this. So, if you are part of that six out of 10 people whose parents are stressed about this, figure out the intentionality and the “why” to make sure that you are creating the best memories and experiences for your family. And then, this one shocked me: 42% of parents are actually using credit card debt to pay for these things. That is definitely a red flag. If you are having to put this stuff on a credit card, not for the convenience of it, but actually just so you can pay for it and then you push it off and you pay that 20 plus percent interest rate on it, you are working against yourself. And I think you definitely need to have that “why” value proposition discussion and be very intentional. It might not be creating everything that you had hoped for, a positive experience for your child. For more information, check out our free resources.