How to Stop Procrastinating Money Management
Money Girl's easy tips to break through your financial roadblocks and jump start your success – now!
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If you’re like many people, you have really good intentions when it comes to managing your money—but you just haven’t followed through. When you understand why you’re not taking the initiative to improve your finances, it’s much easier to break through roadblocks that are holding you back from financial success.
Here are 4 of the most common reasons why you procrastinate making smart money moves:
Reason #1: You Think It’s Too Difficult
When you think about doing something that you’ve been procrastinating—like signing up for the 401(k) at work, switching to a better bank, or refinancing a loan—what typically comes to mind? In most cases, if you haven’t already completed the task, it’s probably because you think doing it will be too time-consuming, confusing, or emotionally painful.
We tend to fixate on undesirable expectations more than a task’s potential rewards. I can’t tell you that every smart money move is quick, easy, or painless—but I can tell you that it’s always worth your time and energy.
One motivator that works for me is to consider the opportunity cost of doing something on my financial to-do list. Opportunity cost is what you lose by not doing something. For instance, if you haven’t started saving for retirement yet, consider this: If you contribute just $100 a month and get a 7% average return for 30 years, by not getting started you’re saying “no” to earnings of over $85,000. That’s a heck of an opportunity cost!
Even if it takes you 2 hours to complete retirement account paperwork and choose specific investments, each hour puts over $40,000 in your portfolio to spend during retirement. The reality is that opening up a retirement account should take you less than a half hour—not to mention that you’ll probably increase contributions over time, giving you a much bigger nest egg than my example. In other words, taking a half hour to set up your retirement account or to do many other financial tasks could easily turn out to be the most profitable 30 minutes of your entire life!
Reason #2: You Don’t Know Where to Start
The second reason we fail to make smart money moves is if we don’t know how or where to start. Maybe you just don’t have a good local or online resource, or maybe you have too many resources and are paralyzed by the variety of choices. Make a commitment to spend just 15 minutes researching solutions, contacting a financial professional, or sending an email to a knowledgeable friend or coworker. Just doing something small can set you in motion to accomplish the bigger financial task at hand.
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Reason #3: You Don’t Have Goals
For some people, not having specific financial goals is the reason they’re not accomplishing more with their money. If you don’t have an end game, it’s impossible to make financial decisions with confidence and conviction.
For instance, most people know they should save for the future, but they don’t know how much they need to retire or to send their kids to college. Or they know they should have life insurance but aren’t sure how much is enough. These small sticking points can put enough drag on your momentum to prevent you from moving forward.
I have an easy answer for these types of “how much” questions: use free online financial calculators. Just enter search terms like “retirement calculator” “college calculator” or “life insurance calculator” into Google to find resources that will give you a ballpark estimate. I use the calculators over at dinkytown.com and bankrate.com all the time. You can always adjust the amount of your retirement contributions or life insurance benefits later on, but the important thing is to get those products in place and funded now.
Reason #4: You’re Avoiding a Money Mess
Have a few skeletons in your financial closet? Avoiding them is a bad strategy because they only multiply when you ignore them. Start by making a list of what you need to improve, like getting out of credit card debt. Then jot down a few solutions for each issue.
For instance, for credit card debt, focus on the worst offender, which is the card with the highest interest rate. Make a commitment to stop all spending on the card, cut back on the luxuries in your life, and make more than the minimum payment each month. That’s because the longer you make minimum payments the more interest you fork over to the credit card company, and the less you get to keep for yourself.
How to Stop Procrastinating Money Management
To quit procrastinating your smart money moves, the key is to stop thinking and start doing. Even doing something small that moves you in the right direction is powerful. It’s better to take action and make decisions than to wait for a perfect plan or solution. Plus, the longer you think about a task, the more you can blow it out of proportion. So, take responsibility for your financial life by getting focused, facing your fears, and taking the first small step to better money management.
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