Money & Career
8 Signs and Symptoms of a Money Procrastinator
8/6/2018 11:25:57 AM
Signs of a Money Procrastinator

It’s no secret that many people avoid dealing with their finances in a responsible way. Even if your financial picture looks bright, procrastinating on money-related issues can cause you undue stress, anxiety, and unhappiness. And if you have serious money problems to contend with, avoiding them could cost you dearly someday. 

Wherever you fall on the money-avoidance spectrum, financial expert and best-selling author Eric Tyson, says it’s time to face your financial fears. "Just about every person procrastinates on dealing with some aspect of their finances,” says Tyson, author of Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s For Dummies®. "Many people have a tremendous amount of anxiety about money that contributes to this avoidance. Either they don’t budget responsibly, or they’re not saving as much as they should, or in some cases, they’re being outright self-destructive by not paying their bills on time, or at all. It all adds up to trouble that could be avoided.”

Money procrastination manifests in several ways. Answer these questions to identify areas of your financial life where you may be procrastinating.

Are you financially disorganized and prone to clutter?
Because avoiders dislike dealing with money and related issues, they don’t spend their free time keeping documents organized and easy to find. 

Do you pay your bills and taxes late? 
Money avoiders often incur late fees and interest charges on various household bills. Those who are self-employed, and thus responsible for quarterly income tax filings, are at additional risk for falling behind with tax payments, which can have huge negative financial consequences. 

Do you have unopened financial account statements? 
A classic symptom of money avoidance is having piles of unopened account statements, even during periods when your investments are doing fine. 

Do you feel unease and shame about letting your money sit in a low-interest account? 
Even those who can save money may have a tendency to allow it to accumulate in bank accounts that pay little if any interest. While they may know that they could and should do better with investing the money, they can’t overcome the inertia. 

Do you feel enormous stress and anxiety over money issues and decisions? 
Whether you were raised in a home where money was an ongoing source of unhappiness and conflicts, or you believe you lack the skills and knowledge to take control of your current finances, making financial decisions makes some people feel uncomfortable and stressed. 

Do you have a low level of interest regarding money issues and decisions? 
While some avoiders shun financial decisions and responsibilities due to anxiety, others are imitating behavior learned from their parents or are rebelling against a parent who was financially or emotionally overbearing. 

Do you have an absence of long-term financial planning and thinking? 
Many money avoiders don’t think much about their personal and financial goals for the years and decades ahead. 

Do you have marriage problems relating to money? 
Money procrastinators typically have conflicts over money with their spouses, and their avoidance may stem from or be exacerbated by that. 

Tyson says if any of the above scenarios sound like you, know that you can still regain control of your finances with time and patience. Here’s how:

Recognize and admit that you procrastinate. 
Until you recognize that you have a problem, you can’t work on a solution. Recognizing your tendency to procrastinate is the first and most important step to changing the way you handle your money management.

Determine why you avoid dealing with money (and prepare to work on those issues). 
There are numerous reasons you might procrastinate on money issues. Maybe you feel incompetent to wisely handle your finances after several attempts to be financially responsible. Perhaps you are disorganized in many areas of your life, and struggle just to deal with your work and family commitments alone. Other sources of procrastination may include marital friction, perfectionism that prevents you from ever getting started, or flat-out avoidance of difficult situations. Many people are money avoiders because they can get along sufficiently through either good fortune or by being surrounded by those who enable the avoiding behavior. Whatever the reasons for your money procrastination, take steps to address the issues head-on and start changing your behavior. 

Work on one or two tasks at a time. 
If you try to tackle your laundry list of financial to-dos all at once, it can be so overwhelming that you’re tempted to give up. Focus on a few high-priority tasks to begin, and once you’ve completed those, move on to the next few. Remember, if you’ve got a long list of goals, it might take six months to a year to work through them. Pace yourself so you won’t give up.

Automate your bill payments. 
Financially disorganized individuals are often late paying their bills. But late payments, particularly when it comes to paying taxes, are a problem that can lead to substantial late fees, interest, and penalties. One of the best things you can do to avoid those late payments is to set up automatic payment on your various bills. 

Develop a regular investment program. 
All money procrastinators should make their investing automatic. If you work for an employer, let them know you want to sign up for their payroll deduction savings account program. Not only will your money grow faster inside a tax-deferred account, but your employer may also offer free matching money. 
If you are self-employed, you’ll need to establish your own retirement account. Find out about the different retirement account options and choose the one that best meets your needs.

Hire financial help. 
Financial advisors are best suited for those who want to quantify how much they should be saving for specific goals and determining where to invest it. Look for a competent and ethical advisor who has reasonable fees. 

"Chances are, you’ll never love dealing with money issues and that’s okay,” concludes Tyson. "But if you can accomplish foundational goals, you won’t suffer the ill effects of someone who completely neglects their finances. It’s not too late to change your relationship to money, and when you do, you will feel far more motivated and in control of your life.”
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