All of us are procrastinators one way or another. Procrastination with certain things can range from weeks to years. The worst thing about procrastination is that we know we shouldn't do it. So why is it then that we all suffer from it? There are many reasons. Just to name a few: it will be hard work, laziness, it's complicated, or we are tired. Some things that we procrastinate on are harmful and others do not make much of an immediate impact. The problem with procrastination is that it will catch up to you eventually and a price will be paid.
Have you ever thought about the cost of procrastinating? I bet most, if not all, have not. Let's spend a little time tallying up the cost of procrastination from common things that we all do. Below are made up examples of known things needing to be fixed from a fictitious person:
- Cable/internet bill is too high- $150 per month
- Carrying a balance on a credit card- $4,000 APR 13.3 with a minimum payment of $120 per month
- Goofing off at work
- Not saving
The cable/internet bill and carrying a balance on a credit card are pretty easy to figure out and fix. For the cable/internet bill, let's say that you know you can get a better price because of some recent ads that you saw. The better price is $100 per month. You think about calling the cable company but then decide to do it tomorrow because you do not feel like dealing with their horrible customer service. Tomorrow turns into a week and a week turns into months. At this point, you have fallen to sleep about this issue and will take no action. Procrastination cost is $600 per year. Same psychology happens with the credit card. You mean to pay it off, or a large portion, every month but continue to just pay the monthly minimum. It will take you over 12 years to pay off the balance. Procrastination cost is $2,100 in interest.
Goofing off at work and not saving do not have an immediate impact, unlike the previous two examples. Over time they can have a huge impact. If you goof off at work for too long it creates a strong likely hood of being fired for poor performance. It could also keep you from being promoted and having an increase in pay. Not saving can go on for many years without feeling an impact. But when it hits, it can hit very hard.
Now let's factor in goofing off at work and not saving into this equation. Two years from now you loose your job due to performance issues. Your salary was $40,000 per year. That income is now gone, which means it is impossible to make credit card payments among other things. Savings do not exist, so how are you going to make ends meet? The job market is terrible and you are struggling to find a job. You decide to move in with your parents 6 months after losing your job because all of your credit cards have been maxed out. This means you now have $14,529 in credit card debt at 13.3% APR (even though this has probably changed due to lack of payment). Your monthly payments have increased 262% and are now $435 per month. It will now take you 18 years to pay off the balance by only making the monthly minimum. Keep in mind those minimums fluctuate based on the balance. You already paid close to $800 in interest before losing your job. An additional $8,000 more in interest has just been added.
Just about one year after losing your job, you finally find a new one. Due to your desperate circumstances, you accept a new salary of $35,000 annually. Since you are now back on your feet, you decide to move out of your parent's house. Things feel good again and you adjust back to your old life and expenses.
Odds are your old ways were too expensive, hence $4,000 in credit cards. Now you have $5,000 less in income per year. Most likely your credit cards will become a seesaw of decreasing the balance and increasing the balance. For simplicity sake, let's just tally up the procrastination costs that we have addressed.
- Cable/internet bill- $600 per year for 2.5 years
- Credit card interest before job loss- $800
- New credit card balance interest over 18 year- $8,000
- Loss of income- $5,000 per year for the next 3 years
Total procrastination cost is $24,500. Keep in mind that we have not even remotely calculated all of the costs due to its complexity. The bottom line is procrastination kills. Kill it before it kills you!