And 4 ways to overcome it

10 Ways Procrastination Costs You

by Gary Foreman

We've all done it. We've put off until tomorrow something that could have been done today. Often it seems as if there's no cost to procrastination, but we know better. Stephen Richards, in "Overcoming Procrastination," wrote "Habitual procrastinators will readily testify to all the lost opportunities, missed deadlines, failed relationships, and even monetary losses incurred just because of one nasty habit of putting things off until it is often too late."

Let's look at 10 ways that putting things off until tomorrow can be costly and 4 ways to break the habit.

  1. Procrastination in home repairs - Your home is full of things that break. Shingles blow off a roof. A bathroom drain develops a small leak. If you don't fix it now, you could be looking at major repair bills later.
  2. Procrastination in household chores - Cleaning or changing your heating/air conditioning filters only takes a few dollars and a few minutes. Putting it off means higher electric bills and could even cause your blower motor to die. The same is true with caulking. A little time and money now will reduce your heating and cooling bills later.
  3. Related: How to Perform Your Own Annual Air Conditioner Inspection

  4. Procrastination in routine tasks - Too tired to look up your checking account balance? Didn't feel like looking for a stamp for the one bill that you need to mail in? Don't be surprised if you trigger a bounced check or late fee that could run $30 or more.
  5. Procrastination in home organization - Clutter can take many forms, including stacks of paper, "miscellaneous" drawers, and overflowing closets. If you can't find it when you need it, you'll waste time and money replacing it.
  6. Procrastination in planning meals - It takes a few minutes each week to put a meal plan together. No one will force you to do it, but if you don't, you'll find you spend more in the grocery store and at your local take-out.
  7. Procrastination in preventive safety - You don't need those no-slip thingies in your tub or shower until someone falls. Waiting that long could mean a hospital bill and a long recovery for someone.
  8. Procrastination in home security - Protecting your home from thieves is another thing that's not important until you need it. It takes time to install security lights and trim bushes near the house, but even with homeowners insurance, you'll deal with a deductible, a lot of paperwork, and the sense of being violated if your home is burglarized.
  9. Procrastination in retirement planning - Financial planners will tell you that starting young makes retirement planning (and saving) easier. In your twenties or thirties, it's easy to think retirement is too far in the future to consider. In your forties and fifties, it seems like it might already be too late. Putting off planning for your later years could have nasty consequences when it is time to retire.
  10. Related: Haven't Saved for Retirement?

  11. Procrastination in spending controls - Although the credit card balance is a little higher each month, no one is forcing you to look at your spending and begin to control it. Well, at least they're not until you trigger penalty rates and face a 25 percent interest rate on your balance.
  12. Procrastination in managing big expenses - You can't watch TV without seeing an ad reminding you to compare insurance rates or refinance your mortgage. If you haven't done it within the last year, you could be spending hundreds of dollars needlessly.

So we've all put off tasks at one time or another. Sometimes the job seemed too big. Other times it was unpleasant. Whatever the reason, there's no reason that you can't overcome the tendency to procrastinate. Once you get started, you'll realize that you're capable of succeeding.

  1. No task gets better with time. Whether it's a messy closet or a leaky roof, the problem it causes won't go away. In fact, most get bigger. The sooner you attack it, the easier the job will be.
  2. No one is born that way. We've all put off things, and some of us have made it a habit. That doesn't mean that we're cosmically predestined to always procrastinate. Begin the job and you'll see that you can do it.
  3. Related: 7 Habits of Highly Frugal People

  4. No task is too big if you break it down into bite size pieces. Take the first step today. Then congratulate yourself for starting and promise yourself to take the second step tomorrow.
  5. No task is too nasty. We all have jobs that we don't like. Putting them off doesn't make them more agreeable. Tackle just a small portion of the job. Once that's done, you'll know that the next small portion can be done, too.

You can overcome procrastination and its unnecessary costs. It's just a matter of starting now.

Reviewed March 2017

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Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, and Gary shares his philosophy of money here. Gary is available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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