Financial Procrastination: Paying The Price

Procrastination is probably the most common excuse for not getting important things done.  It causes us grief at school, work and in our private lives.  Apparently an immediate distraction is far more appealing than a longer-term goal.

Procrastination is my secret middle name.  For instance, when I sit down at the computer to write a blog article, I feel the need to “warm up” a bit first with a few games of Free Cell.  The next thing I know several hours have magically gone by and I still don’t have any ideas to write about.

One of the worst prices you pay for procrastinating is in the financial or wealth area of your life.

Procrastinating at Work

The most common excuse is that people think they are more creative under pressure.  It only seems that way.  Unfortunately, the bleary-eyed 3 am crowd scrambling to finish a project will usually come up with routine, unremarkable and uninspired solutions – and this is noticed by their superiors.

Procrastinators have trouble right from the start.  They put off the job hunt and stay unemployed for longer.  If employed, they put off updating their resumes and looking for a better job and will generally fall in the below average group of income earners.

You can’t really be successful if you keep checking your emails (Facebook, Twitter), surfing the Internet, and wandering around the office chatting with co-workers instead of working on your projects and making those important sales calls.


Procrastinators are the ones who run out of shampoo, printer ink and light bulbs instead of stocking up when the items are on sale.  They will pay full price, or worse, inflated prices at the 7/11.

They have hefty unpaid balances on their credit cards and are probably being charged the maximum interest rate and late fees.  Often if you are late paying one bill, the credit card company can jack up their rates.  How do you think they make their record profits?  In a worse case scenario phone, electric and heating can be cut off leaving you not only freezing in the dark with no one to call but faced with hefty charges for re-connecting the services.

Forgetting to make deposits at the bank or even balancing your chequebook can result in huge overdraft and interest charges, not to mention the fees collected by the company that didn’t receive payment.

Revenue Canada no doubt makes hundreds of thousands of dollars on late fees from those who file their taxes after the deadline.

Investing and Retirement

How many people park their money in savings accounts earning less than 1 per cent until they get around to deciding on what to invest in?

Too bad procrastinators rarely act on their intentions to sock money away for retirement or even a rainy day.  All that compound interest and potential dividend income is lost and almost impossible to regain as many boomers are now discovering as they approach retirement with not very spectacular portfolios.

Estate Planning

Too many people put off estate planning and creating or updating their wills.

Dying intestate – without a legal will – is very common.  Abraham Lincoln, despite being a lawyer and receiving death threats during his presidency died intestate, even though he said “Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.”

You don’t want your whole estate to go to the government, a hated sibling, or to your ex-spouse from whom you are separated but not yet divorced (and their new partner).

The price of procrastination in your finances can be costly.  Immediate gratification often comes at the cost of later, but larger, rewards.  We fritter away the days with the small pleasures of television and computer games, Internet surfing and Sudoku puzzles and end up with nothing much to show for it.  Don’t look back with regret.

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