I hear from people all the time who are drowning in procrastination. They’re behind at work, their homes are full of projects they may never finish, and they feel completely overwhelmed and stressed out.
These are all common results of procrastination, but most people don’t understand the financial consequences of procrastinating.
I’m not talking about the obvious things like late payments on a credit card or an overdrawn checking account. While those are definitely unpleasant possibilities for procrastinators, they’re also obvious. We know those consequences are out there.
But there are so many more subtle costs that most people never think of.
Financial Consequences of Procrastinating
A friend of ours, for example, wants a new phone. A few weeks ago my husband and I both got new Android phones free by purchasing them during AT&T’s “Refurb Madness,” a big sale that coincided with March Madness. So there were two elements involved in our free phones—they were refurbished and they were on sale.
Today I found out from my husband that our friend hasn’t gotten around to ordering yet, even though she wants a phone just like ours. Unfortunately, not only is the sale over, but they don’t currently have refurbished phones in that model. She’ll have to pay $100 or wait until they have it again—and then it may not be on sale for free.
That’s a big example of losing (or at least not saving) money by procrastinating; here’s another. We got a $50 coupon from a local garage because we are former customers and they want us back. We didn’t like their attitude and won’t be going back. But I intended to list the coupon on Freecycle for someone who does like that garage or needs their service and could really use the $50 savings. I forgot. (Yes, I’m a procrastination expert, but I’m not perfect, either). I just thought of this example, and I think the coupon runs through June, so I’ll do that this afternoon.
But what about small savings here and there? I have a punch card in my wallet from Savers. It is six stamps ($30) short of a 35% off coupon. My husband and daughter went to Savers and bought shoes recently, but I hadn’t told them about the coupon. They spent about $10. We have two weeks left to get our stamps or lose the discount. We shop there frequently, so we will spend the $30, but we have to remember to go before the card runs out and use the card, or we lose the discount.
And don’t get me started on expired discount coupons. Not just grocery coupons, either. I sometimes get coupons for things like a free package of copy paper, and I use a LOT of copy paper. But I rarely use the coupons. And I’ve been putting off recycling some laser printer toner cartridges that are worth $2 coupons at Staples. I have close to $20 sitting in my garage that I could redeem.
The problem is that we don’t think about procrastination in terms of saving money. We think about it in terms of getting things done, and we place our focus there. Meanwhile, coupons expire, sales run out, and we lose small or even large amounts of money either by not saving it or by not receiving it.
What’s the answer?
Fortunately, this type of procrastination is easier to tackle than the whole topic of procrastination. I have three quick tips that will help you save the money you’re putting off now.
1. If you intend to buy something, and it is on sale, buy it. Find out the end of the sale and post that on your calendar. If you don’t know when the sale ends, make a note on your calendar to make the transaction. If you’re not sure about the purchase, make a note to make a decision. If you allow the sale to expire and you still buy the item, you’ve lost that money.
2. Put your coupons and sale offers in one place, like a file folder, and review them weekly. Put every discount offer you receive here, not just your grocery coupons.
3. If you need to return something or recycle something that pays a refund (like my printer cartridges), put this on your calendar and put them by the front door. Do it the next time you run errands.
The key with this type of procrastination is to not allow yourself to forget. If you keep it top of mind, you’ll get it done and avoid the financial consequences of procrastinating.
Angie Dixon is the author of the www.helpforprocrastination.net. She is a personal development author, life coach and blogger.