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How To Combat Financial Procrastination

Have you ever wondered to yourself why it is that you procrastinate on important or difficult tasks? One would think that we’d want to get these unpleasant sources of anxiety out of the way, yet we have a tendency to hold off on them until the eleventh hour. Luckily, according to a New York Times article [1], procrastination isn’t necessarily a sign that we are lazy or have limited self-control, but rather “it may be due to something inherently unpleasant about the task itself… [or] from deeper feelings related to the task, such as self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety or insecurity.”

By this logic, it makes sense that when it comes to finances, people commonly hold off until the last minute to take care of business. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips to stop procrastinating on difficult money questions.

     1. Just get started

The toughest part of tackling any task is oftentimes just finding the motivation to get started. Take writing an essay. Was there ever a time in college when you put a paper off until the last minute? It’s likely that this was due, in part, to the impending anxiety you felt when you thought about this project. Once you finally took 5-10 minutes to sit down and brainstorm an outline, however, you probably felt significantly better about your progress, didn’t you? Just ripping off the bandaid and getting started on a project is sometimes all it takes to get the wheels rolling. Your finances are no different. Most of us dread looking at our credit card bill, double checking the charges, and making the necessary payments, but as soon as we take the first step and open the envelope, one of the hardest parts—the anxiety of getting started—is behind us.

     2. You probably won’t feel any more ready tomorrow than you do today

How many times have you stared at the overflowing laundry basket and thought, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” only for tomorrow to come, and the cycle to repeat itself? When it comes to procrastinating on money-related tasks, odds are that you’re putting them off as a coping mechanism so that you won’t have to confront potentially stressful financial realities head on, but putting them off will likely just make them worse. As the saying goes, why put off until tomorrow what you can do today? You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.

     3. Break your goals into manageable chunks

Another reason we sometimes procrastinate is because we bite off more than we can chew by setting goals that are too big. More often than not, these big goals are accompanied by even bigger anxiety, as it can be stressful to know where to even begin on your journey to achieving them. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t set big goals, however. It just means that there is a better approach. Say you want to plan for retirement. “Plan for retirement” is a smart goal, but in order to achieve it, you need to set yourself up with attainable actionable steps. For example, one goal under the “plan for retirement” umbrella could be to talk with your employer about your company’s 401K. Another could be to set aside $50 from each paycheck in a separate savings account. Smaller, more attainable goals are less intimidating than a single large goal. And yet, if you combine a few smaller goals, ultimately you’ll end up reaching that large goal after all.

One thing we can probably all agree on is that procrastination doesn’t feel good. We’re not all sitting around trying to procrastinate, but sometimes we just don’t know how to get out of the rut or over the hump. At The Humphreys Group, we’re here to help you end financial procrastination. If you’re interested in working with a financial advisor to set your financial plans in motion today, schedule a complimentary introductory call [2]with us. Together, we can forge a path to reach your financial goals.