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Putting things off until the last minute is a slippery slope and the bad habit known as procrastination can cause even bigger problems when you throw money into the mix.
The reality of the situation looks like this: The same people who wait until midnight before the deadline to send in their taxes are the same people who wait until the very last minute to do a lot of things, including paying rent, getting chores done and more.
Procrastinating does more than just make you look like a lazy bum; you’re also giving yourself far less time to react when an emergency happens.
Picture this: You’re 15 minutes away from the post office on tax day when your car breaks down and you only just budgeted enough to pay your taxes. Now what? It’s either pay your taxes or fix your car because you didn’t get it done sooner, when your car wasn’t an inch from death (which you also could have fixed a long time ago if you only kept up with the maintenance).
Unfortunately, chronic procrastinators are often so deep into this harmful lifestyle that putting off the important things until later is still easier than ending up in the occasional rut. This is a pretty mild example, but far worse things could happen and having your priorities out of the way sooner gives you less to worry about when life goes off the rails.
Having A Plan B
Procrastination becomes an even bigger problem if you blow all of your money between paychecks. Therefore, if you know you’re going to procrastinate (and it would take a miracle to break the habit), try to have an emergency fund set aside when things get down to the wire.
Procrastinators do what they do because it’s rewarding to them when they substitute responsibilities for enjoyable things. Therefore, it makes sense to reward yourself for doing something that would save your skin in a pinch. For example, if you decide to put 10 percent of your paycheck into a savings account, give yourself a pat on the back and do something you enjoy right afterward, like go to the movies. If you associate saving money with good feelings, you’ll be more likely to do it.
The key is to adjust your lifestyle slowly and methodically so it becomes natural and habitual to do the right thing.
Using this same mentality, a strong willed individual can even start to reverse the habits of procrastination. Try to save your most cherished activities for when you do something responsible and early, like getting your homework done as soon as you get the assignment, or setting aside your rent a month in advance.
As soon as you do something good, treat yourself. Train yourself to crave that good feeling (and reward) that comes with being a responsible person.
When it comes to taxes, a lot of people get their gratification from their tax return, and the sooner you get your end of the bargain done, the sooner you can put that government check into savings (or at least part of it).
The path to living a financially sound life means staving off the temptation to blow all of your money, and if you can get through one temptation, you can get through another.