Procrastination and your finances… Delays Can Cost Dollars

There is a natural tendency to procrastinate in doing stressful activities that you don’t enjoy. Combined with a busy, hurried lifestyle and competing demands, procrastination can create its own problems, such as stress, guilt, and panic. These feelings may increase as the deadline approaches and tasks remain undone.

Given the current economic environment of the last several years — high unemployment, declining home values, escalating health care costs, complex tax law changes, and Madoff-type scandals — many consumers approach finances with a since of foreboding. Because procrastination can actually cost money, the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants offers a few tips on how to keep from procrastinating on financial issues.

Schedule financial tasks.
Scheduling financial tasks and completing them in small chunks, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. For example, most consumers receive several types of financial mail, including bills, brokerage statements and bank reconciliations. Place all financial mail in a basket and set aside some time periodically to go through them at one time. You will develop a habit that will become part of your routine. This routine will eliminate procrastination. Also, try to save time by using online bill pay or by developing a system that works for you.

Create a savings strategy.
Breaking large tasks into smaller tasks is an excellent savings strategy. You may believe that you do not have enough money to save, and therefore, you develop inertia. Also, retirement may seem like such a distant dream. However, saving a little now will help get you started, and, over time, you will develop a sense of accomplishment as the investment grows in value. Watching your money grow will motivate you to create additional savings.

Divide and conquer.
If you have a spouse or significant other, work together at the same time and split the duties. People who make commitments and have a buddy in the task will not be as likely to delay. One person can do the bill pay while the other files statements. At this time, you may also have the opportunity to talk and discuss financial matters, which will reduce uncertainty and stress. When you both finish your financial tasks, come up with a reward that you can both share.

Remember late fees.
There are many instances where being early can actually save considerable money, but it involves planning ahead. For example, try to pay January’s mortgage near the end of December to get the mortgage interest deduction on the current year tax return. Many people save on Christmas supplies, such as wrapping paper and ornaments, for the following year by purchasing them immediately after Christmas. Also, irrigation companies will offer substantial discounts to install irrigation equipment in off season times. Even some colleges give substantial discounts for getting tuition paid early.

Because many businesses want smooth cash flow, it makes sense for them to offer such discounts. Of course, it is very important to weigh the discount you’d get with any interest or investment income you might have earned by retaining the money. While savings can be the reward for paying early, late fees, penalties and interest can be the penalty for not getting financial tasks done by the due date. It is especially important to pay credit card bills on time, as just a short delay can add considerable late fees to a bill.

Don’t forget that your can offer advice on creating a budget and making smart choices that will help reduce procrastination on financial matters. For more free financial advice, or for a free referral and free consultation, visit

With more than 6,000 members in public practice, industry, government and education, the OSCPA is Oklahoma ‘s only statewide professional association of s. Since 1918, the organization has continued to provide professional education, conduct quality reviews and promote and maintain high standards of integrity and competence within the accounting profession.

Updated 07-28-2010

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