The Eisenhower Matrix is a time management technique that can be applied to personal finance. It provides a framework for financial tasks based on their urgency and importance - allowing you to focus your time and energy on the financial matters that will have the biggest impact. In this article, we’ll explore how to use the Eisenhower Matrix to organize your personal finances.
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
The Eisenhower Matrix was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a time management strategy. It separates tasks into four categories based on urgency and importance:
Urgent/Important (Q1): Tasks that require immediate attention and have long-term consequences.
Important/Not Urgent (Q2): Important tasks with no imminent deadline.
Urgent/Not Important (Q3): Tasks that seem pressing but won’t have a long-term impact.
Not Urgent/Not Important (Q4): Tasks that can be eliminated or delegated.
Q1 should contain your “four walls”. These are needed for day-to-day living. The four walls are housing, food, utilities, and basic transportation. These should be reasonably priced and ideally not consume more than 50-60% of your budget. If you have a car payment, this percentage may be larger. The less the percentage the more room you have for growth. Dave Ramsey suggests your home be about 25% of your income. Crown Financial suggests no more than 40%. The amount can vary depending on where you live as well as how much you make.
Q2 is your current area of focus. Are you needing to save for an emergency fund? Getting out of debt? Planning a vacation? That goes in Q2. After you have set aside money to cover your basics for living, the four walls, then you will cover these current goals.
Q3 may seem like it is urgent, but it is not really important. These are things like a sale on items you do not really need. Just because you find a bargain does not make it one. Too many times we spend in the moment. The more we can not spend at these times the better off we can be.
Q4 is neither important nor urgent. It is our area of waste. Do you ever buy something that you later regret? We all do or have at some point. Make note of what that is and add it to your do not buy list. Do you subscribe to a streaming service you never watch? If so, cut it out.
These are just a few ideas for applying the Eisenhower matrix. What are some others you can think of?
- Transportation to work
- Paying yourself first
- Getting out of debt
- Saving for retirement
- Seeing the latest movie in the theater
- Shopping sales
Not Urgent/Not Important
- Fancy coffee
- A nice dinner out
These are just a few ideas, and you can add your own based on your needs and desires. The goal is to create a plan that allows you to live below your means and find financial security.
Tips on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix for your finances:
- List all pending financial tasks and decisions. These could include bills, savings goals, investment research, taxes, etc.
- Sort each item into one of the four quadrants based on urgency and importance. Urgent means having a pressing deadline. Important means having a high long-term impact.
- Tackle the Urgent/Important quadrant first. Focus your time and energy here.
- Move to the Important/Not Urgent quadrant next. These still require attention but have more flexibility.
- Only tackle items in the other quadrants if time permits. Otherwise, minimize or eliminate.
- Re-evaluate the matrix monthly and rearrange as priorities change.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a simple but powerful organizational tool that can optimize your personal finances. Identifying urgent and important financial matters allows you to maximize the impact of your time and resources. Use this technique to focus on high-value financial activities and minimize busy work and unnecessary spending. With the Eisenhower Matrix, you can bring order and intentionality to money management.