Beat procrastination and save money

I’m slowly getting through my bloated reading pile. At times it’s been so big that I’ve worried it would topple onto me during the night and I’d bleed to death from a thousand paper cuts. I’d be found, surrounded by glossy images of happy hikers, uncooked recipes and tips for growing a productive veggie garden. Not a good way to go.

In this week’s readings, an article caught my attention in an old edition of Choice Magazine. The good people at Choice want to show me how to get my budget back on track. While I’m not a fan of budgets, the infographics were seriously seductive and I’m always up for a good money tip.

$3105 What a daily $3.50 coffee and $10 lunch add up to each year*

While most of the advice related to standard financial literacy principles – and yes, coffee was mentioned – I liked their take on bills. It’s often easy to assume these are fixed costs, when in reality they present a great opportunity to save money without changing your habits. Well sort of. For example Choice suggests asking yourself if you actually use your extras health insurance. If not, do you really need it?

Avoid the ‘lazy tax’

Renewal notices are another example. By not shopping around for things like insurance you pay a ‘lazy tax’. Unfortunately, loyalty to your insurer doesn’t always pay off, with new customers often receiving more competitive premiums than the one printed on the renewal notice. Unless you do something about it.

The trouble is, when faced with the prospect of shopping around for car insurance quotes or reading a magazine in the evening, which would you choose? I think my choice is probably obvious – neither, I’d go for a walk! Unfortunately, I’ve found the closer a bill is to its due date, the more likely I am just to pay it, without shopping around. It doesn’t help one of my favourite quotes is “don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can put off until the day after”.

Ironically, just starting, not to mention finishing a task you find challenging or unenjoyable is actually a lot more satisfying than a more pleasurable activity like reading a magazine. In fact, given the buzz you get from doing the hard stuff, it’s remarkable that those irritating tasks often stay on our ‘to do’ list almost indefinitely. Or until the tax office calls.

Beating Procrastination

Procrastination can be a serious road block in saving money. It’s so easy to tell yourself you’ll feel more like comparing quotes tomorrow. Or it’s too difficult a task to face after a long day. But the end result is the same, you stand in the way of yourself and waste money.

What is the simplest way of beating procrastination? Here’s what I do.

First, I decide to do it. Saying ‘I should’ isn’t the same as ‘I will’.

Next, I decide when to do it. Monday evening after dinner or Saturday morning before getting into the garden. Doesn’t matter when, I just need to have a plan.

Finally, I take a deep breath in and just get started. That’s it. Just get started. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes. Once I start a task, it rarely seems as bad as I’d imagined. Sometimes I even start to enjoy it, even if it’s embarrassing to admit!

While I’ve never found that reviewing insurance policies gets easier or more enjoyable, at least the sense of self-satisfaction of getting the job done is just as good every time.

*Choice Magazine, March 2015

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