Procrastination is a real challenge that can seep into other areas of your family's life. Financial procrastination is one of those areas.
"To put off intentionally and habitually" Procrastinate as defined by Merriam-Webster
What is Financial Procrastination?
Financial procrastination is when you have financial obligations and moves to make, but you put those decisions aside on a continuous basis. For instance – you know you need to look into a strange charge on your credit card, but you continue waiting until who knows when. Or, you may have student loans and need to apply for a deferment but you let the time lapse and end up in the credit bureau. Part of what defines money procrastination is something you know you should do, but are not actually doing. Plus, unlike mowing the grass, there's often a real dollar cost to putting these things off.
Can you overcome it? Yes. Do you have work to do? Again, yes. Here are a few suggestions on how to get past your procrastination:
1. Accept Where You Are
You may feel as if you have to do too many things to get past the point of no return. The key is in accepting where your family is, knowing you may never be ready to tackle everything, and start from there. Motivating yourself, even when you don’t want to, allows you to make baby steps toward making things right. This is a time to set aside time with your spouse and talk the issue through together.
2. Time It
When you decide to take those baby steps, don’t overdo it. Give yourself time to get adjusted to figuring things out. Taking five or 10 minutes to do something simple is the first step in this transformation. Perception is everything. Don’t shy away because you feel as if things are too far gone. Address it one step at a time.
3. Give Everything a Deadline
If you work well under pressure, put your financial tasks on a deadline. With a firm deadline in place, it is easier to look at the task as something that absolutely has to be done, rather that something that can be put off again and again.
4. Set Some Goals (with accountability)
Your baby steps should be tied to your goals. What do you need to do? How can it be accomplished? Even if it’s going to open up that new bank account, you should set a goal and a date by when it should be done. You have a built in accountability partner: your spouse. That's why it is so important to talk about issues like this in your marriage. Talking about the task and (kindly) asking your spouse to hold you to the task's completion with a date is a positive for both of you.
5. Reward Yourself
When you tackle those financial issues, take some time to reward yourself. These rewards can be tied to your short and long-term goals. For instance, if you want to go see a movie, give yourself an hour to get things done before you have to leave. If you haven’t done what you were supposed to do, then no movie. Or, set yourself up for completing a number of financial tasks. For every task you complete, you get to surf the net, or watch something you really wanted to. It’s a different type of motivation, but could work in your favor.
"The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied." Proverbs 13:4 ESV
Having someone close to you around to monitor your progress can go a long way. You’ll hold yourself accountable, but someone else will be holding you accountable too. Once you establish these healthy habits when it comes to your finances, the stressfulness of the situation may help prevent your procrastination.
10 Common Examples of Financial Procrastination
Enrolling in the 401k or retirement plan at work
Buying life insurance
Checking on fees in your checking account
Starting an emergency fund
Investigating a strange charge on your credit card
Comparing auto/home insurance rates to see if there's a better deal
Starting a 529 to save for college
Making a plan to pay down debt like a student loan
Checking monthly recurring bills to see if you can find ways to save
Making a will or other estate planning decisions/documents
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