Is procrastination a major problem for you? Do you often put off very important tasks that you should be focused on? Procrastination can have many negative consequences. Deadlines are missed, opportunities are wasted, work is rushed with the attendant fall in quality standards, impressions are created, as you consistently arrive late at important meetings and events, as you didn’t leave home in time, but blame the traffic instead.
Many people procrastinate to a degree, but if your case is a chronic one, it must be addressed swiftly or it will have significant implications for your future success. The costs of procrastination are substantial in every aspect of life, but when it relates to delaying or putting off important decisions related to your personal finances and investments, the damage to your financial future can be extreme.
Are you in your forties or fifties and still haven’t got round to saving and investing for your retirement? Do you routinely submit your tax returns late and end up having to pay penalties and late fines? Are you still planning to insure your property or write a will?
Consider these cases of procrastination; they illustrate the consequences and why we cannot afford to delay things any longer:
I plan to insure my home
Owning property is one of the most fulfilling investments particularly when it is your own home. It took the Abayomis eight years to build their house at Isolo. They saved every penny that they had and denied themselves so much so they could own their own home. They finally completed it and moved in before Christmas 2013 and had a lavish opening with friends and family. They had spent close to N45,000,000 over the period, building literally one brick at a time with direct labor.
Building and contents insurance was one thing they planned to do, but never got round to it. One day there was a power surge caused by a damaged transformer at the top of their street and all the appliances in the house blew. The air-conditioner in their bedroom caught fire; fortunately they escaped with their lives, but the top floor of their home was completely gutted before the fire brigade arrived and the fire was put out. They have no additional resources to rebuild their home for now and have since moved in with family members at Ikorodu, until they can find a place to live.
I will start to save and invest
Mercy Thomas is forty-nine years old. She has worked her way up the ladder at TCP Bank for fifteen years and earns N570,000 a month after all deductions. Mercy’s present lifestyle has been her priority and she spends over half of her annual income on her rent in Lekki. She is still paying off a car loan for a car she really can’t afford, and enjoys expensive clothes, accessories and holidays.
Mercy never got married; she is totally responsible for her financial life and has to support her aging parents as well. She literally lives from month to month and hasn’t yet got round to saving for her retirement. The recession has caused her bank to lay off staff and Mercy has just heard that her name is on the list. She will be paid 2 months in severance pay, but with her rent due this month she really is in dire straights. Mercy has no savings at all, not even an emergency fund to tide her over for six months whilst she reviews her options and looks for another job in an already challenged labour market.
I will tidy up my affairs
Chief Peters was 78 years old when he had a severe heart attack, which killed him instantly. He had built substantial assets over many years and meant to tidy up his affairs with a will and a trust but he never got round to it. He had several millions of naira worth of stock certificates that he hadn’t got round to dematerializing; these were in a large suitcase in his bedroom. Chief Peters had 9 children from 3 mothers who did not get along.
What ensued was a monumental family fight as assets were stripped and sold. His children ended up in court for several years fighting over what would happen to any remaining assets. Chief Peter’s inertia cost him the dignity of a proud legacy and gained him a long-term family feud.
Procrastination can be a chronic habit, so deeply engrained that you cant break it overnight. It can only stop being a habit when you take active steps to beat it. Here are some tips that should help.
Start each day with a list and include at least one of the items that you are avoiding; you will do the pleasant tasks anyway. Eat the biggest frog first.
Find an accountability partner to support you and that will hold you to your plans.
Reward yourself. If you finish a difficult task, give yourself a treat, or do something you enjoy. Focus on the success you have achieved and enjoy the release of the burden that you have been carrying.
Can someone help you complete the task? You might have to pay them but that may still be a much better option than delaying it any longer.
Our lives are shaped by many different life events most of which come with financial consequences that must be planned for. By not planning in advance, by not saving and investing today for a more prosperous tomorrow, by not protecting your assets, by not planning for your legacy, you jeopardize all that you have spent a lifetime building.
Be proactive about combating financial procrastination; it is one of the worst kinds of procrastination as its consequences can be devastating. Unnecessary delays and laziness come with serious risk you cannot afford.
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