As a financial adviser, I have had the privilege of sitting with real people and hearing their unique stories for over 15 years. I have heard the financial stories of about 4,000 people during that time. My clients come from all walks of life and convey to me things they may never discuss with anybody else. What’s one issue that comes up regularly, across the board? Procrastination.
How can we get people to recognize the corrosive impact of procrastination? The following are some symptoms and suggested remedies to alleviate them and actively work against procrastination.
The arc of professional life has provided me some perspective on the human psyche and how and why people do what they do. To say it has been fascinating would be an understatement. Based on my observations, here are a few key points I have learned. These points are simple, common sense steeped in real life and from real people.
Procrastination Symptom #1: I’m in No Rush
“I have years until I have to make that decision.”
You have time, but it often doesn’t come in the form of years. Any decision deserves thoughtful processing, but decisions can and should be made over the course of days or weeks, not months or years. Pick a reasonable deadline to commit yourself to act on choices put in front of you. If you feel pressured into a financial decision, back away and approach it with a different person or from a different angle.
Procrastination Symptom #2: Backward Priorities
“I will eliminate debt and then get ready for retirement.”
In these times of extraordinarily low interest rates, embrace the “good” debt and avoid the “bad” debt. Debt is like cholesterol — there are good and bad parts. Embrace 30-year mortgages in your 20s, 30s and 40s, and consider an eight-, 12- or 15-year mortgage in your 50s and 60s. All too often, I have seen people proudly debt free in their early 50s but woefully behind in retirement savings. Your house will be able to supply $0 of your retirement income, and starting to save for retirement in your 50s also results in missing the most crucial element of retirement planning: time.
Procrastination Symptom #3: Someday Syndrome
“I invest conservatively because I don’t want to lose money. Maybe someday I’ll be more comfortable with adding risk.”
If you aren’t comfortable with risk in your younger years, get so! If you can’t, you’ll have to save three to four times more, which …….