There is a natural tendency to procrastinate when it comes to stressful activities that you don’t enjoy. Combined with a busy, hurried lifestyle and competing demands, however, procrastination can create its own problems, such as stress, guilt and panic. Given the economic environment of the last several years—high unemployment, declining home values, escalating health care costs, complex tax law changes, and bitter economic scandals—many consumers approach finances with a sense of foreboding. Procrastination, here, though, can actually cost you money. The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers a few tips on how to keep from procrastinating on financial issues.
Schedule financial tasks
If you schedule financial tasks and complete 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 developing a system that works for you.
Create a 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. Saving a little now, though, 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 to tackle financial chores and split the duties. People who make commitments and have a “buddy” in financial management task will not be as likely to delay. One person can pay the bills, while the other files statements. During this time, you may have the opportunity to discuss financial matters, which will reduce uncertainty and stress.
There are many instances where the timing of your expenses can 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 persons save on Christmas supplies, such as wrapping paper and ornaments, for next year by purchasing them immediately after Christmas. 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 will be getting 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.
Your local CPA can offer advice on creating a budget and making smart choices that will help reduce procrastination on financial matters. Consult your CPA with all your questions about financial issues facing your family. To find a CPA in your area, visit www.IneedaCPA.org.