It would be easy to spend all day every day worrying about your personal finances. You'd be writing budgets, reading books, listening to the business news, monitoring online portfolios and so on.
Normal mortals, however, have a day job and a life as well. So how much is enough time to spend on your personal finances?
I've often heard it said that an hour a week is all you really need to keep your investments humming along smoothly. American writer Jim Cramer reckons one hour per stock per week is closer to the mark. That's stocks you own and ones you plan to buy. Fund investing should take less time.
If you can't spend an hour a month, then you probably should be getting someone else to manage your finance for you. That might be your spouse, or your financial planner.
If you have trouble getting your head around spending time on your personal finances, think of it as "retire rich time" or "find financial freedom time" says writer Ayn Rand. Rand recommends putting aside one hour a month (or one a week if you're motivated) to pursue your financial goals.
That time isn't just for portfolio monitoring. It's also time to educate yourself. Rand recommends attending one personal finance course or investment seminar a month. Or that time might be better spent reading a personal finance or investing book a month. At least for the first year.
Another good tip comes from the Financial Times. That's instead of spending an hour a day on Facebook posting notes on other people's walls and looking at shared photographs, use that time working on your personal finances. How many readers, I wonder, spend more than an hour a week shopping – over and above groceries? A lot I would guess – especially those of the female variety.
Personally I try to multi task while watching TV – that other great time bandit. In reality that often means doing simple personal financial tasks such as receipt filing or updating my budget on my laptop, whilst semi glued to the box.
Perhaps it's good that I don't use TV time for personal finance monitoring. I noticed in the back of Mary Holm's book The Complete Kiwisaver that there is a quote from a "wise man" who said "it's best to put your long-term investment documents in a bottom drawer, and look at how they've done every five years".
That's a bit extreme. But the point is that we can overanalyse our finances. This leads to a common failing of DIY investors. That is they often chop and change investments without giving each strategy a fair go.