Critical Thinking, Planning

5 Financial Items We Tend to Procrastinate

In the wide world of personal finance, I can think of five specific things that people tend to procrastinate religiously. It’s like they’re taboo, except we’re always talking about how we should do them.

The reasons for this apparent laziness are many, but in my own life and those I encounter, a couple of common threads appear:

  • We are afraid of financial projects that appear too large to handle or will take too long.
  • We shy away from complicated situations, because it’s difficult to understand them on a top-down level.
  • We put off things that seem to be too far into the future, thinking that we’ll “get to them later.”
  • We don’t get to protecting things that seem like a remote possibility, like losing a job, getting injured, or worse.

I’ve been guilty of all of these at various points in my life. They are human nature, and they are hard to overcome.

The Big 5

The results of our procrastination are the most commonly put-off financial tasks. In my mind, the big five are:

  1. Budgeting. Real, solid budgeting.
  2. Investment management, like portfolio selections, re-balancing, etc.
  3. Home inventory. A list of all of our stuff.
  4. Insurance, which is a very broad field, but also very important.
  5. Income planning. Can you say retirement?

How are you doing with these five? Given them any thought lately?

Budgeting

I think people get away from budgeting for a number of reasons, but primarily because we’re either too afraid to face the truth, we feel like we don’t need one, or we simply don’t know how to get started.

Budgets are not a financial requirement, but they are critical for taking control of your money if you’re consistently spending more than you earn, or you don’t know where your money is going every month. You might also be in financial denial.

Ready to make a budget? Easy ways to start include beginning to track your daily spending and creating a list of priorities for yourself to gain focus and direction. See my series on budgeting for a complete overview!

Investment Management

I think most people tend to over-think or under-think their investments. When times are good, people are quick to jump on the latest opportunities, stock-pick, and otherwise meddle in their retirement savings. When times get bad, it’s over to index funds and walking away for months without a second look.

I think the right approach is somewhere in the middle. If you leave investments alone for too long, you’re neither optimized for growth, nor able to react to large-scale market trends, like good buying opportunities in broad sectors. If you follow the market daily, you’re bound to fall into the trap of simply gambling all your money.

How can you start monitoring your investments? Two good ways are reading up on portfolio allocation and the importance of rebalancing on a regular basis.

Home Inventory

Trying to prepare a complete home inventory seems like one of those big projects that could never be accomplished in one day, but that’s not necessarily the case. A home inventory is critical for many reasons, not the least of which are net worth and home insurance purposes.

Getting a well-formed inventory list together doesn’t have to be a trying process.

What’s the easiest way to get started? Try doing a “quick inventory” that only includes large items and fast estimates, rather than researched data. It’s much easier to go back and fill in the blanks later. Try walking around your house with pen and paper, rather than attempting a computer-only inventory!

Insurance Products

Insurance (of all kinds) is a great example of an item that’s both “too far ahead” and “never gonna happen.” Well, let me ask you this–if it’s never going to happen, why bother buying insurance in the first place?

*Crickets*

Of course, the answer is that we never plan for bad things to happen to us, but should be ready for them anyway. If your excuse is that it’s better to save than to insure, at least do so consciously, and not because you’re simply putting off evaluating your insurance coverage.

Ready to whip your insurance into shape? Set aside a week of your time to review all your insurance protection, and learn about the basic insurance products most people might need–including health, life, disability, car, and more.

Income Planning

Last, but certainly not least, is income planning. The most common form of this is retirement planning, but it easily extends to plans for periods of unemployment, disability, and even self-employment after leaving a steady job.

We don’t like to think that far ahead, because we’re not always sure what the future holds. That’s one of the reasons why substantial savings can be one of the best allies when it comes time to face uncertain periods of income.

How can be better plan for future income? Imagine what it would be like to live on 50% of what you make today. Think about your retirement lifestyle. Will you retire at all? How might your career change in the future and how will it impact what you make? Do you want to change careers?

Do it Today!

It’s so easy to fall into the habit of procrastinating these five, because they’re not constantly in your face and calling for attention. But importance of making time to think about them is clear–so make the time today and get started on the important, but not necessarily urgent, financial tasks.

Photo by auburnxc

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33 thoughts on “5 Financial Items We Tend to Procrastinate

  1. I would add in a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney into the “insurance” banner, particularly with the “it’ll never happen to me” excuse. Costs little to nothing to take care of, but it’s oh so necessary. I used to work in a neuro ICU where I learned the importance of these two documents. But, um, do I have them? No. FAIL. But I have everything else on the list taken care of, at least!
    .-= ConsciouslyFrugal´s last post: Tuesday’s Tip: Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal =-.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says:

      Both are great suggestions, thank you! You can probably find enough free information online to complete either one quickly and correctly, too!

      Cudos for taking care of everything on MY list! :)

  2. (tapping my fingers on my desk) I’m still waiting for my pepper to come back, Wojo! LOL

    Hey, I was going to say what about paying the bills? – but you said “religiously”, so I think it is right you left that one off the list.

    Of the five you’ve listed, how would you order them in terms of the impacts to your personal finances? I think it goes like this:

    1. budgeting
    2. income/retirement planning
    3. insurance
    4. investment mgmt
    5. home inventory

    Your thoughts?

    All the best,

    Len
    Len Penzo dot Com
    .-= Len Penzo´s last post: Buying Prescription Glasses Online: Debunking The Four Biggest Fears =-.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says:

      LOL It’s coming back. I’m trying to get it to look good before I make it official.

      I would order them like this:
      1. income planning
      2. insurance
      3. budgeting
      4. investment management
      5. home inventory

      Similar to yours, except I think budgeting is not as critical as most of us think. Being aware of what’s coming in might be more important? I dunno…just a thought.

  3. Like another reader, I would have to add to your list the whole issue of making a will and power of attorney and living will.

    We all know we’re gonna die, but most of us think not any time soon. Sure, it’d be great to live well to a ripe, old age. It doesn’t happen for everybody. That’s my number one “to do” in the next four months, get myself organized when I’m no longer here to organize myself!

    Thanks for the article.
    .-= Tracy´s last post: Loving the Library =-.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says:

      Scary thought, but unfortunately you’re absolutely right. I would hate to have my good name overshadowed by the mess I could potentially leave behind…

  4. I do pretty well on all but home inventory. Why? Because to quote your post, “We are afraid of financial projects that appear too large to handle or will take too long.” I am a procrastinator by nature, so getting these things done are all pretty big accomplishments for me.

    Now…time to clean that basement…or maybe not.

    By the way, I agree with Len’s priority order. A budget is a prerequisite for all other financial planning.

    One more thing: I noticed your Alexa rating is under 100,000!! Congratulations!

    • Wojciech Kulicki says:

      I’m in a similar boat–it feels great to get things that have been put off for a while off my plate. :)

      Thanks for the Alexa mention. The Yakezie challenge has been fantastic! I noticed you just broke through the 200,000 barrier–congratulations right back to you!

  5. I had never thought of home inventory as something I was neglecting to do that would impact my finances but it seriously is. Thinking about it as something I should be doing on a regular basis, like budgeting, I now know that I have thousands tucked away under the beds and in the closets.

    I have a lot of work to do..better get started!
    .-= Jesse´s last post: Free Business Cards from UPrinting.com =-.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says:

      It’s the one I probably put off the most too, from that list.

      I like the approach “Your Money or Your Life” takes with it, too. You might just realize how much unnecessary stuff you own.

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  8. My biggest procrastination is my monthly accounts…. Not done any this year…. I must promise myself to get them done this week :(
    .-= Forest´s last post: Using Tomato Ends For Your Spaghetti Sauce Recipe =-.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says:

      Good luck! Just set aside some time and make it a priority. It’s such an obvious lesson, but it took me a while to “realize” that those things in life we spend the most time on are those that will “grow,” whether that’s good or bad (i.e. watching too much TV!).

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  10. Great list! I would also add managing your credit. A necessary evil, but I’m guilty of waiting to check it each year longer than I should.

    Aside from just having good financial practices to keep your score at a good level, it’s easy to procrastinate checking your credit history for errors and theft. And it’s so common these days you can’t afford not too!
    .-= Car Negotiation Coach´s last post: 10 expensive car negotiating mistakes =-.

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    • Wojciech Kulicki says:

      Another good one! (And one that can really bite you in you let it lapse too far!)

  12. Look on available data: what are the most usual causes of personal bankruptcies? Medical expenses and mortgages. While the first one is associated with sudden health problem, the second one is usually caused by sudden loss of income. So things I would never let being influenced by my procrastination: health insurance (because injuries and diseases never wait) and also maintaining a solid cash buffer.
    .-= Lorne Marr´s last post: Disability Insurance Sales Down 6% in Canada =-.

  13. Aury (Thunderdrake) says:

    I tend to put off investment management a lot. My biggest problem with setting up my portfolio at the moment is that all of the brokerage managements I’ve got at the moment has been a complete pain in scaley ass. All that application faffing about has really gotten the best of me, to say the least. And here I’m thinking “RRRrrugh, I just want some freakin’ blue chip shares!” Shouldn’t be so complicated to make that transaction!

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