When you fill your tank and start driving, you’re unlikely to think about how many litres of petrol you’re using.

“Hold on” you’re thinking, “this is a finance blog – is this leading up to some awful metaphor where fuel is money?”

Well, yes. But bear with me. Say you’ve looked over your bank statements, and decided you spend way too much on fuel. To fix the problem you’d take a holistic approach. Everything from carpooling with your partner, through to combining your weekend trips, or setting off for work earlier would be considered – and rightly so!

However, when thinking about money, many of us avoid a holistic approach. Instead, we usually exclude “essentials” from our list, and focus on the savings we can make by cutting back on our lifestyle.

What if we have it backwards?

Why not do the exact opposite? Of course you should make savings by trimming your lifestyle. But that should be a last resort. It makes more sense to start looking for savings everywhere else. One reason we avoid this approach is because we’ve had it drummed into us saving means “cutting back”.

Another reason is simply it’s harder. You have to ask hard questions: how can I improve my cash flow? Which bills can I put off paying without repercussions? How can I access cash for invoices due but not yet paid? Which banks (ISPs, insurers, utilities…) might offer me a better deal? Dealing with these details is not how you want to spend your free time!

Is it really harder?

No, in fact, it’s much easier (and more pleasant) than sacrificing your lifestyle. Perspective is key: You need to manage your money. Become a money manager. Being a manager means someone else is concerned with the details, meaning you work towards your long term goals: retiring to a luxury beachfront development, or something much less conventional.

The key is to switch to a “manager mindset”.  A manager needs both expert advice, and other people to handle the details. Get rid of the repetitive tasks and time-sapping details. Bill Butler can automate most of them for you, and getting set up is quick.  This will give you the time, energy, focus and most importantly the vision to build a financial strategy.

Refuelling

A refuelling stop gives you a chance to reset your tripmeter, and see what mileage you’re getting. With the distractions out of the way, month end (or payday, or invoice day…) will allow you to easily chart where you are on your financial roadmap, and see if anything needs “managing”. You didn’t think I’d forget about the fuel metaphor did you?

stephensJay Stephens – Lead Thought Provoker Jay began his career in London with Rabobank, CLS bank and a Lloyd’s of London syndicate. Jay’s work has spanned corporate communications, content editing, newspaper articles, courseware, blogging, policy drafting, technical writing, and a regular crossword. He is passionate about 8-bit tunes, self-improvement, and the Oxford comma.