The pursuit of good personal financial management involves hawkishly watching how we use we use our money while continuously looking for ways to increase our income. However, many of the things that impact our ability to balance these two things are not related to money but to our behaviours. Some seem like small matters but their impact on our outcomes is huge. Some of these behaviours are things we practice almost subconsciously. Today we’ll look at 6 of these seemingly small things that cost us big time, especially in the long run.
To call procrastination small is somewhat of an embellishment. Many people struggle with procrastination. However, it is something many people practise almost subconsciously. How does procrastination cost us? We should do many things, and doing them at the earliest opportunity means we need not spend extra money or effort when they become urgent. When we do things in a rush because we have waited for the 11th, 12th or 13th hour, we have fewer options or to pay extra to get them done. Doing these things at the earliest opportunity to do them would save you considerably more than procrastinating.
Of course, many people do not procrastinate with the intent to do so. More often people simply fail to plan appropriately for what they need to do and end up firefighting because things have now become urgent. Planning is often avoided because it feels like a lot of unnecessary work, and plans are rarely guaranteed to succeed. Not planning is almost guaranteed to present problems as some things go unnoticed. If you struggle with procrastination or things slipping through the cracks, then planning can help you track what’s coming and by when it needs to be done.
To make the best decisions, especially where money is concerned, we need to be aware of both the options available and what they ultimately mean for us. If you do not take time to research, you will likely not know either of these things. Research involves digging deep into what is out there and it can feel costly in terms of time and effort. In many cases, people find out when it’s too late that there is a better financial option than the one they chose. Researching is important as it gives us a vantage point of all the options available.
When one has chosen an option that is not ideal, upon discovering there are better options, people usually chose to settle for what they have. Sometimes the better option was not available at the time the decision was made. Nonetheless, when you know better, you should do better. The moment we become aware of better options, we should start figuring out how to switch to the better options. There’s a hidden trap here; some options only seem better on the surface. Researching these options becomes very important because it helps us make sure that our better option is, in fact, better.
There is a school of thought that says there is safety in numbers. While this comes from the established practice of survival, it also has its drawbacks. There is counterintelligence that suggests that if you are following the majority, you’re likely wrong. Following the herd doesn’t always bring good results. It guarantees that we will get results that are likely similar to the herd. These results, especially in personal finance, are more often than not underwhelming. While the herd sometimes has wisdom, it is important to audit the herd’s thinking to ensure that it is the best course of action.
Not taking responsibility
There are many reasons that people do not take responsibility, and to delve into them would warrant a whole book. What is clear is that we can shift blame, but ultimately we cannot shift responsibility for our actions or lack thereof. We ultimately pay the price regardless of whose idea we think it was or whose responsibility we think it is. We need to learn to take responsibility for our outcomes through ownership of our actions. Any other action is really an attempt to delegate responsibility. Responsibility is mostly forward-looking rather than retroactive. So the question is not what happened for us to get where we are but rather what are we going to do to get out of it? That is responsibility; what are you going to do?
If you are struggling with your personal finances, I hope you were able to relate to some of these small things and also understood how to overcome them. As always, we are happy to take questions on the ideas we discuss here in the comments section.