Procrastination and Your Finances

Photo credit: Rennett Stowe

ROSELAND – There is a natural tendency to procrastinate in doing stressful activities that you don’t enjoy. Combined with a busy, hurried lifestyle and competing demands, procrastination can create its own problems, such as stress, guilt and panic. These feelings may increase as a deadline approaches and tasks remain undone.

Given the current economic environment — high unemployment, declining home values, escalating health care costs, complex tax law changes and Madoff-type investment scandals — many consumers approach finances with a since of foreboding.


Because procrastination can actually cost money, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) offers a few tips on how to keep from procrastinating on financial issues:

Schedule Financial Tasks
By scheduling financial tasks and completing 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 it at one time. You will develop a habit that will become part of your routine. This routine will help eliminate procrastination. Also, try to save time by paying bills online or developing a system that works for you.

Create a Savings Strategy
Breaking large tasks into small, bit-size chunks is an excellent 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. However, saving a little now 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 and split the duties. People who make commitments and have a task “buddy” will not be as likely to delay. One person can do the bill paying while the other files statements. During these tasks, you may also have the opportunity to discuss financial matters which will reduce uncertainty and stress. After you have worked together reward yourself for staying focused.

Remember Late Fees
There are many instances where being early can actually save considerable money, but it involves planning ahead. For example, try to pay January’s mortgage at the end of December to get the mortgage interest deduction on the current year tax return. Many people 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 paying tuition early.

Because many businesses want smooth cash flow, it makes sense for them to offer such discounts. Of course, it is very important to weight the discount you will be getting against 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 CPA Can Help
And don’t forget that 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.

If you don’t have a CPA, you can easily locate one online using the NJSCPA’s free, online Find-A-CPA service. Just go to, and in a few clicks you can locate a highly qualified professional who can assist you.

For more information on various personal financial matters, visit the NJSCPA’s public service website at While visiting, you can subscribe to Your Money Matters, the NJSCPA’s free, monthly email newsletter to receive valuable personal financial planning advice throughout the year.

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