Tedious or even menial financial tasks are easy to put off. Unfortunately, there are a times where waiting on doing certain things will cost you. 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.
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 (no really, your half-birthday is a good time to do these things), payday, or a major life event, 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. For example, you can follow these four easy steps to help you get out of credit card debt.
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 percent 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 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.