Procrastination. Sometimes I feel like it’s my lifestyle. But I know it shouldn’t be. Procrastination almost never makes things go better. It usually makes things go worse. And it frequently makes things more expensive.
I have a lot of deferred maintenance happening at my house. There’s a super-long list of things that I keep saying I’m going to work on myself “when I have time” or hire someone to do “when I have more money.” But reality dictates that I’m never going to have enough time or money to take care of everything. So things remain undone until it becomes urgent–like when my water heater died a few weeks ago. If I had tended to the water heater BEFORE it failed I would have had time to shop around for a better deal. Because I was dealing with an emergency, I got the water heater and the plumber that were available the quickest. And I’m sure that I paid more than I would have in a less urgent situation.
The same theory applies when you defer maintenance on your body or your teeth. Preventative medicine costs a lot less money (and time) than if you get really sick or let a whole tooth rot away before you seek help.
Managing your money also goes a lot more smoothly if you don’t procrastinate. When you pay your bills on time you avoid late fees. When you time your deposits with your outgoing money, you avoid overdraft fees. When you plan food in advance you save money by avoiding convenience foods and restaurants. Typically anything that is planned in advance is cheaper than just flying by the seat of your pants. Textbooks are cheaper if you buy online or buy used (which requires buying early). My personal favorite “early is better” (in normal times) is music festival tickets—they are almost always less expensive if you buy super-early (usually before the lineup is announced).
Procrastination can cause a number of problems. Many of them will require money you don’t need to spend. The quick and easy cure is to STOP PROCRASTINATING! I’m sure I can do that. I’ll get around to it someday…
Sometimes procrastination can be expensive. I discovered recently that I had become complacent about some things in my finances.
I told you last week that I had bought a new (to me) car and had used financing available through the dealership that was not my best deal. I knew when I bought the car that I was going to refinance the loan at a lower rate with my credit union. But I bought the car in May and didn’t get around to handling the refinance until November. Now that it’s done, I’m paying $8 more per month, but for 6 months less than it would have been had I not refinanced. Ultimately this is saving me more than $900 in interest. If I had done it sooner it would have been a lot more. But I procrastinated.
My husband used to drive for Uber. If you’ve ever been picked up by a really big guy in a little black Prius, that was him. But he decided to give up the driving business after spring semester. I should have called my insurance company immediately to let them know that our vehicle usage had changed. But I procrastinated. I finally reached out to my insurance company last week, and now I’m going to be paying about $30 per month less for my car insurance. Procrastination cost me $150.
I’ve long been a fan of online savings accounts. The interest rates are always a lot higher because they don’t have the overhead expenses that bricks and mortar banks do. I jumped onto the online banking train nearly 15 years ago with ING. A couple of years ago ING folded and all of a sudden my accounts were with Capital One 360. I’ve never loved Capital One, but I didn’t really think about it at the time. No banks were paying much in interest at the time, so I just rolled with it. But savings rates have been creeping up for the last year or so. I decided to take a look to see where things were with Capital One 360 and was surprised to see things were not so great. Their rates are comparable to other online banks, but only if you carry a balance of $10,000 or more. Since I don’t have anywhere near that, I was only earning about half of what I could have been on my meager savings. So I started shopping. Now I have a brand new online savings account with Ally Bank (one of three options I decided were worthwhile—Discover and Amex also have great rates and good reviews). I’ll be earning almost twice the interest I was before, and I no longer have to deal with a bank I never wanted to choose in the first place.
Finances are definitely a participation sport. You have to put in some effort to get the best results. If you don’t….you end up missing out. Procrastination can be expensive. Have you been putting the necessary work into your money? If not, it’s time to think about it!