Procrastination could be costing you big. Here's how to conquer it

Sarah Finney 18 August 2014

Procrastination loves to eat up time. Anyone who’s ever revised for an exam, tackled a big project at work, or learnt a new skill knows the call of the procrastination wild, sweeping you away from structure, progress and the finish line to a world of nearly-theres and not-quites.

But the impact of procrastination can be more serious than a strong talking to after a missed deadline at work, or an annoyed friend when you’re late for dinner. There can also be a financial impact, whether it’s the cost of missed opportunities, or actual costs that can hit your wallet hard. Here are four ways procrastination may be costing you, and how to regain control.

1. Late credit card payments

The dilemma:

Forgetting or putting off paying your credit card bill each month can have some dire consequences: it can put a stop to any 0% interest period, could hike up your interest rate, and, if left long enough, could make a dent in your credit rating, not to mention an average fee of £35 per occasion – serious stuff indeed. There are many reasons why you might put off paying off your balance: maybe you’re worried about the hole it will leave in your current account, or you decide to make the minimum payments each month so you have more to spend. Or maybe it just slipped your mind.

Beat it:

By setting up a standing order to pay off your credit card each month you know that it will go out without any remembering on your part (but make sure you’ve got enough money in your account to avoid going overdrawn). Beyond that, it will take away the temptation to hold on to your cash for as long as possible, and will commit a set amount each month – you could try setting a realistic but challenging amount, but make sure you’ve still got enough for your other expenses by budgeting. Our award-winning MoneyHub tool could help you to see your payments, as well as their effect on your current account balance. If, however, the amount on your credit card statement is too daunting to consider – hence why you’ve been putting it off – you could seek some advice from a debt charity.

2. The last-minute shopping dash

The dilemma:

You’ve been invited to a wedding or party, but you can’t think of the perfect gift so you delay shopping until the last possible minute. As well as running the risk of getting a worse present than if you’d gone with something else to begin with, you’re also likely to be less price-conscious under pressure, compromising cost for convenience. If you’re combing what’s left of the wedding list, chances are that you’ll be left with the most expensive items.

Beat it:

Avoid the chaos of a last minute shop by setting calendar reminders as soon as you get the invite. Allot yourself a set time window to choose a gift and don’t allow yourself to come home with nothing, deferring the decision to a later date. If you are doing a last minute Supermarket Sweep, ignore Dale Winton and try some of the price comparison apps that are available for your smartphone, such as Idealo. By scanning the barcode, you could compare prices across different shops quickly, saving you money at short notice. If you’re ordering online at the eleventh hour, do a quick search for discount codes – some of them could slash the price of next day delivery.

3. Paying for travel on the day

The dilemma:

Paying for train tickets – or, even worse, plane tickets and hotels – just before you travel could cost you. suggest that the cost of a ticket could be 43% more at the station on the day than if you had booked in advance. Plane travel can be cheaper with a last minute deal, but only if you’re flexible on when you leave.

Beat it:

Be prepared to book as soon as you know you’ll be travelling. Train operators usually release cheap advance tickets around 10 or 11 weeks before travel, but they’re snapped up quickly. Set up an email alert to be notified when tickets first come on the market. For longer distances, the common consensus is to book plane tickets at least three months in advance. On the whole, you’re more likely to save in advance than you are to get the perfect last minute deal.

4. Failing to check your money

The dilemma:

We all know what it’s like. In a choice between watching a film, washing up or even cleaning the car, and checking bank statements, anything comes before sorting out your finances. Procrastination can be incredibly creative, and you might find yourself being surprisingly productive, but you won’t have tackled the important thing at hand. Losing track of your finances can have some tough consequences. For instance, you might end up paying a much higher rate of interest on your mortgage if you revert to your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR) at the end of your initial rate period without shopping around. Or your savings might be underperforming because you haven’t taken the time to take a look at what’s on offer elsewhere in the market. Here’s one more: are you on track to retire comfortably? The problem with all of these issues is that they can carry a degree of fear (and therefore attract procrastination like a magnet).

Beat it:

Schedule some quality time, just you and your finances. If the thought of a spreadsheet sends you to sleep, try the award-winning MoneyHub technology: it can give you a view across all of your accounts, enabling you to see how you’re doing in everything from savings and investments, to paying off your mortgage, loans and credit cards. It can also help you to create a monthly budget, tracked easily against your everyday spending.

So, what are you waiting for? Recognise where procrastination might be costing you, and retake control with some of these simple suggestions for keeping both eyes firmly on the road – and your finances. MoneyHub may be able to help you out here: try it now to see the progress of everything from your everyday spending against a budget, to savings, investments, mortgages and credit cards.