Tedious or even menial financial tasks are easy to put off. Unfortunately, there are a few times where waiting on money stuff will literally cost you ... money. To help you (and your financial health), here are seven ways to overcome money procrastination.
1. Put money goals on your calendar
Nothing says "do this thing right now" like a Google calendar alert. But if your phone or computer is too much of a distraction, go old-school and set deadlines in your yearly planner or wall calendar. Circle the big money goals, like ramping up your 401(k) investments, checking your credit or getting life insurance, in red pen. (By the way, we can help you tackle that last one. You can quickly compare life insurance quotes across companies here.)
2. Leverage common triggers
Studies show people are predisposed to do hard, but necessary tasks at certain times of the year. That's why "New Year's resolutions" and "spring cleaning" are a thing. Use these and other common trigger events, like your birthday, half-birthday, payday or a major life event (like your upcoming wedding), to map out your short-term and long-term money calendar.
3. Do one money thing at a time
Apply the popular debt snowball method — where you pay off a small balance first for some quick positive reinforcement — to broader money goals. Cross the easiest money thing off your to-do list before moving on to bigger tasks. When you get to the big stuff, focus on that goal as opposed to multiple money moves. Those strategies can keep you from overloading and giving up all together.
4. Automate everything
Free up your money calendar by putting some tasks on autoplay. For instance, arrange to have a portion of your paycheck rolled into a high-yield emergency savings account. Or use an app, like Qapital, Chime or Digit, that offers automatic savings features to build up money reserves.
Some employers let you automatically escalate 401(k) contributions every year. Consider taking them up on the offer, even if you're only comfortable upping your deferrals by 1% at a time. Need to build a bigger nest egg? Check out these five ways to save more for retirement in five minutes or less.
5. Set up bank alerts
Most financial institutions let you request email or text alerts when your bank account gets too low or your credit card balance is coming close to its limit. In other words, they'll holler if things get too off-track. Log in to your checking or savings account to find out what alerts are available to you — and which most align with your money goals.
6. Get a money buddy
Another research-supported trick of the money-task trade: Find someone to keep you accountable (and vice versa) as you work on improving your financial health. Bonus tip: Make that person your life partner. A recent Policygenius study found couples who talk and tackle money together are more likely to stay together.
7. Treat yourself
Small incentives for smart spending habits can go a long way. For instance, if you get a raise, have a celebratory night out, then up your annual 401(k) contributions. Similarly, use a small portion of a big tax return to buy an item off your Amazon Wish List, then use the rest to fund your financial protection plan. Looking for more ways to responsibly reward yourself? Here's how to budget for spontaneity.
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