7 Biggest Ways Procrastination Hurts Your Finances

Remember those days in college when you'd put off studying until the night before a big exam? You'd stay up all night, desperately trying to cram everything in at the last minute. If only you'd taken the time earlier, you'd have walked into your test rested, calm, and most importantly, prepared.

Those bad habits can cost you a lot more in real life if you carry them into the way you handle money. Here are seven situations when procrastination really hurts your bottom line.

1. Investing: Your money has less time to grow

It's one of the basic rules of smart investing: Invest as early as you can and for as long as you can. Some of the most successful investors are those who had relatively modest incomes, but started investing young and stayed in the markets for decades. Compounding interest worked in their favor, and they enjoyed a sizable nest egg later in life. Even a delay of five to 10 years can make a significant difference in how much money you have by retirement. Quite simply, the more you procrastinate, the less money you'll have.

2. Saving: You continue to spend more than you earn

You're aware that you're spending more money than you're bringing in, but you tell yourself that you'll start cutting back after the holidays. The holidays come and go, so then you tell yourself you'll start saving after your big spring break trip. After spring break, you promise you'll start after your cousin's wedding in July. There's always some reason to put off saving, but the best time to start tightening your belt is right away. Devising an arbitrary future start date for financial prudence only means you're spending money you shouldn't in the interim.

3. Debt payoff: Your balances balloon

That credit card bill keeps getting bigger, and it comes on top of your student loans and car payments. You're getting crushed by debt, but it's so overwhelming you can't bring yourself to come up with a plan to tackle it. Every moment you wait to address your debt problem is a moment that allows that debt to grow. Devise a repayment strategy now, before your debt ruins you. (See also: 5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt)

4. Taxes: You might make a costly mistake

Tax Day seems so far away, but before you know it, it's the middle of April and you haven't even gotten started. You may think your taxes are simple, but rushing through the process increases your chances of forgetting income, missing out on deductions, or making a silly error.

No one says you have to file your taxes immediately at the beginning of the year, but at least give yourself a few weeks to file your return carefully. A rush job could mean you pay too much, or you may end up with penalties due to mistakes.

5. Bills: You miss payment deadlines

There are consequences to paying bills late, usually in the form of fees and interest charges. If you're the type of person who doesn't even open a bill until it's nearly due, you're putting yourself at risk of extra expenses.

Late fees and interest aren't merely one-time charges. Miss your payments by enough days and it can hurt your credit score, impacting your ability to borrow. It's best to pay bills right away when you get them — or put them on autopay — so they don't threaten your finances further. (See also: 5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment)

6. Job applications: You don't get that better-paying position

You found a job that you think you'll like, and it pays considerably more than your current one. But instead of applying right away, you wait. And wait. And wait. Before you know it, the position is filled. This is a total wasted opportunity.

Yes, applying for a job, reworking your resume, writing cover letters, and going through interviews are all tedious and time-consuming. But when you're stuck sitting at your current gig, underpaid and unhappy, you'll really be kicking yourself for not putting in the work to get yourself unstuck.

7. Raises and promotions: You miss out for another year

It's hard to know the precise time to ask for a promotion or a raise. Often, we wait until annual review season, but by then, personnel decisions may already have been made. The best thing is to approach the subject sooner rather than later. Your boss may not be in a position to respond right away, but you've planted the seed so they know your wishes.

Besides, simply asking for a raise or promotion may force your employer to look more closely at your work, and hopefully recognize what you bring to the table each day. If you wait too long to ask, you may have to wait for an entire budget cycle to get another shot.

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