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Procrastination can have lasting impact on financial wellness

By Becky Smith

As Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

The frog is that one thing you have on your to-do list that you have absolutely no motivation to do and that you’re most likely to procrastinate on. Eating the frog means doing the task and doing it right away so you’re free to focus on other tasks without that nagging frog in the background.

This principle is commonly applied to organizing your work, but it can be effective in organizing your finances. You might already recognize that one thing you keep pushing off for another day.

What’s your frog? Calculating net worth? Creating a budget? Setting up a savings plan?

What we know to do and what we do don’t always match up. Add in a little procrastination and avoiding the frog can have a lasting impact on our financial wellness.

Financial Information and Service Center, a program of Goodwill NCW, offers free Power of Money workshops. Participants can discover proven ways to build a budget that works, spend less and save more, reduce debt, prepare for unexpected expenses and have financial peace of mind. These three-week classes are held on consecutive Tuesdays from 6 to 8:15 p.m. at the Goodwill Community Campus, 1800 Appleton Road, Menasha. To register, call 920-886-1000 or go online to www.fisc-cccs.org/workshops/the-power-of-money.

Here are a few financial tasks we often put off:

Calculating net worth — Assets minus liabilities. It seems simple enough, right? Knowing your net worth, either negative or positive, can be the motivator to make changes. A young earner with student loans and a vehicle loan easily can have a negative net worth. Over-extending credit cards can impact net worth. Too much mortgage and not enough money can impact net worth. Knowing if you are in a positive or negative financial position can be the impetus for change. Time to focus on debts or savings. Time to embrace a budget.

Creating a household budget — If your net worth is trending the wrong direction, a practical written budget can help control spending and free up money for savings. Ultimately, it can change your bottom line. Now, that’s exciting! Write the first draft of your budget based on how you think you spend. Then track your spending for a couple weeks or look back at your checking account statements and credit card statements. How do you really spend? What are you willing to adjust considering your net worth and your financial goals?

Setting up a savings plan — Automation is a procrastinator’s best friend. Does your employer offer a retirement plan you can participate in by payroll deduction? Check if you’ve maxed out the employer match, if offered. Talk to a financial adviser to further build your retirement savings.

Automate savings through your bank or credit union for specific household expenses. If you know your roof is good for five more years, set up an automatic transfer now. Your financial institution automatically can transfer a previously determined dollar amount every paycheck into the house savings for that upcoming expense.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are another opportunity to automate savings for future medical costs, but you need to sign paperwork to make it happen. Eat the frog.

We procrastinate for so many reasons. Maybe we don’t know what to do, or we’re fearful of what we’ll find, or we don’t see the reward.

If you are a financial procrastinator, please step forward. Identify the biggest frog and grab a fork! It might not be as awful or as complicated as you expect. When the deed is done you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and relief. Energy spent on worry now can be focused on achieving your financial goals.

 About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at www.shopgoodwill.com. It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit www.goodwillncw.org.

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