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Can Procrastination Save Money?


Procrastination is usually not a good thing. If you delay paying your credit card bill, then you will be hit with a late fee. Many people procrastinate when it comes to retirement saving and they are hurting themselves in the long run. However, there is one case where procrastination is good for your finance. When it comes to buying stuff, procrastination can be your best friend.

As long time readers may know, I get a frugal fatigue attack about once a year in the summer time. This is the overwhelming feeling to buy stuff because you have been frugal for too long. I’m sure everyone has these feelings once in a while. The way to combat overspending is to recognize it and have an intervention plan ready to be implemented. That way, you won’t give in to your impulse to bust out the credit card.

Let’s take a quick look at my last frugal fatigue attack. This was last June and here are the 3 items that I was lusting after.


Mrs. RB40 needed a new laptop because her previous one was 6 years old. I budgeted $500 for this and I got her a relatively nice one for $400 in July. The only problem is that sleep mode doesn’t work correctly. I probably will need to replace the hard drive on this laptop to make it work. A solid state drive would be much nicer anyway. Come on Lenovo…

Smart phone

I was using a pay as you go phone (Tracfone) and it was very cheap, but I needed a smart phone to keep tabs on Retire by 40. I budgeted $250 + $20/month for a Motorola Defy from Republic Wireless. The price gradually dropped down to $99 in December as the Moto X came in to replace it. Luckily, Republic Wireless sent me the Defy to review in September and I actually got to keep it. Yes! Last month, I also reviewed their new phone, the Moto X. It is much nicer, but more expensive at $299. The new plans are more flexible though and I really like the $10/month plan. That plan has unlimited talk and text, but only data service when you’re on WiFi.

Sony RX100 camera

I got tired of lugging around my DSLR. The picture quality is awesome, but it’s just not convenient. I want a portable camera that will give good pictures. The original price was $699 and that was way too high for me. I finally got the RX100 a couple of weeks ago for $450. It was worth the wait. The picture quality is great and I can carry it in my jacket pocket. I really want to take a photography class to improve my skills, but I’m just too busy right now. Perhaps in the summer, I’ll have a bit more free time.

As you can see, procrastination is clearly the way to go when the buying mood strikes. This is especially true for any tech gadgets. A new version comes out every year or two and the price of the current version plummets. Sony introduced the RX100 II late last year at $750 and the price of the original has been dropping ever since. Of course, the latest version is a little better, but the original Sony RX100 was already a great camera. Almost every review I read has been positive and I’m very happy with it so far. The previous version doesn’t necessary become obsolete just because a new one comes out.

Procrastination can be good

Generally procrastination is not good. You don’t want to put things off for too long. However, it can be a good thing when it comes to buying stuff. By waiting a few days, you can reduce impulse buying by a huge amount. A lot of time, you’ll find that you don’t really need that thing you wanted after all. Or by waiting a longer period, you may end up with a great deal on something you will really use. It will give you time to do a more thorough research on the price and quality as well.

Of course, procrastination has a way of creeping into other area. I’ve been meaning to replace our toilets with a more powerful model for a while and it keeps getting put off. Don’t ask… Now, I’m thinking maybe we’ll move and then I don’t have to replace them. 🙂

Do you procrastinate when it comes to spending money? What’s your strategy?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Dear Debt February 18, 2014, 9:01 pm

    Sometimes procrastination can cure all your “wants”. Waiting long enough means you don’t really want it that bad and you can get over it. I procrastinate on stupid stuff sometimes — like getting light bulbs or detergent. It’s terrible, I don’t like buying things that don’t make me feel good, or are simply utilitarian. I like experiences! Although my life is enhanced my light bulbs, it doesn’t make me happier. This is an area I can work on, where I can procrastinate more on going out to eat or having fun.

    • retirebyforty February 19, 2014, 8:03 am

      Yeap! I find that putting the purchase off will do that. A lot of time, I find that I don’t need it after all.

  • Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans February 18, 2014, 8:58 pm

    I really need to start practicing procrastination when it comes to buying clothes! Haha

  • [email protected] Education February 17, 2014, 8:44 am

    Enjoying your article honesty retirebyforty!It’s true that sometimes procrastination saved us from giant headaches. In business and investing, procrastination can save the day. And sometime we loose better chances of getting profit due to our procrastinating nature. That may be depends on luck sometimes and I think this kind of decision taking nature show us many other faces of result. But it’s also true that it’s the worst human habit, might be the reason why we have never truly succeeded at any of our diff ventures…. it is all a waste of time and energy for buying something. Chronic procrastinators are those scary people who never make the right decision on that one Frank.

  • payitoff February 16, 2014, 10:30 pm

    perfect timing. i was gonna spend my President’s day in Ikea tomorrow for some swedish meatballs and a possible tv stand ive been longing to get for 3 years now. looks like the tv stand will be missing me again.

    • retirebyforty February 17, 2014, 4:56 pm

      Enjoy your day off! IKEA is fun. 🙂

  • Erin @ My Alternate Life February 16, 2014, 1:01 pm

    Procrastination saves me money all the time! When I get frugal fatigue, waiting just a few days often cures my excitement over the item and then I don’t purchase it. If I buy something immediately, I usually end up regretting it anyways.

  • Craig Bean February 14, 2014, 5:44 pm

    I’m surprised no one has really mentioned on the ultimate purchase procrastination: Don’t buy it unless you need it. What I have always referred to as “Use it up!”
    We’re a 50 year old couple, and I retired 3 years ago, and my wife still works part time.
    I have the money to do whatever I need/want to do, but I don’t buy new things to replace things that work fine, but just aren’t as cool in some measure, as the new one.
    Waiting until everything truly breaks before replacing it isn’t probably realistic, but I come as close as possible. We’ve got 2 cars, a motorcycle, 2 cell phones, 2 flat tvs, but none of them are the newest/biggest/best. But I also have the time I freed up by living like that, and it’s definitely the right mix for me!

    • retirebyforty February 17, 2014, 4:51 pm

      You’re right. I find that if I put it off, I don’t feel I need to buy that item as much. If I put it off for a while and I still want it, then I’ll look at it again.

  • EL @ Moneywatch101 February 14, 2014, 12:10 pm

    Good Post, I often desire to take a photography class as well. I think as time passes cameras will adjust automatically and everybody can be a professional. (Smart DSLRS.)

  • Scott Costello February 14, 2014, 8:20 am

    I’m an admitted electronic junkie. My first reads in the morning are gadget blogs so i can see what is the next greatest thing to come out. I keep my phone for 2 years and my computers for about 5. When it is time to make a new purchase I don’t like the concept of buying last years model to save a few bucks. The reason I’m upgrading is because the phone/computer is no longer handling the current crop of applications. So I like to buy the latest versions. Technology advances so quickly, if I bought last years model I’d instantly be lacking. In the end I’d have to upgrade sooner and not save any money.

    Please note that I’m a software developer and internet marketer so I get many benefits from having the latest and greatest. Some people like my parents are fine with a 5 year old phone and a computer from 1999. 🙂

    • retirebyforty February 14, 2014, 10:03 am

      For computers, I think last year’s model is perfectly fine these days. The improvement is so incremental and it’s not worth the premium. Smart phone’s life is so much shorter though so I’d probably shoot for a newer one for now. I’m sure in 10 years, it will be similar to the laptops. The latest version won’t be a huge improvement over the current version.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor February 14, 2014, 8:01 am

    When it comes to consumptions, procrastination is definitely a good thing! The longer you wait to buy something, the more you’ll realize you don’t need it, usually. And something better (and often cheaper) always comes along!

    • retirebyforty February 14, 2014, 10:01 am

      There is always a better version around the corner. It’s just wasteful to be on the cutting edge tech.

  • Justin @ Root of Good February 14, 2014, 7:43 am

    I do the same thing. We wanted to replace our cabinet handles in the kitchen. I checked prices and they were $50-75 for the 33 handles we needed. Eventually we found them for $25 so we bought them. The same strategy works even better with electronics like you mention. The prices on tech gadgets tend to drop rapidly, and you can wait a year or two and pick up a used or refurbished model for half or a quarter of the new price.

    I figure if something was state of the art and awesome in 2012, and I can buy it today for 75% off, I’m getting a really good deal.

  • Retire Before Dad February 14, 2014, 7:19 am

    I’ve been putting off buying a new computer for a while now. Since my wife stopped working we haven’t needed a second, and the old Dell is working better. February is a great month to put off spending. Since it is short, you can get away with not buying as much until March and saving the difference. Plus its cold so we don’t go out as much.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules February 14, 2014, 6:18 am

    I do tend to procrastinate when it comes to spending money. It tends to drive my wife a little nuts at times, but if I can still live life and not be negatively impacted too much then I’ll likely wait on the spending. That is especially the case if it’s anything electronics related as you can generally get a better price by waiting. The one area I tend not to be this way is if we need something for the business. I’m more apt to spend money on that, but I guess you could argue that spending money in that area allows us to make more money. 🙂

    • retirebyforty February 14, 2014, 9:59 am

      I really need to improve on the business side. I’m just hesitant to spend money even on business. That’s not good.

  • Ernie Zelinski February 14, 2014, 1:36 am

    Yes, I procrastinate when it comes to spending money. There is no strategy, however. I am just lazy. Some people put things off for days, some put things off for weeks, some even put things off for months. I have been known to put things off for years, and it may not be too long before I have put off purchasing something for a decade or more.

    Here is an example where I have procrastinated. At one of the banks I deal with, I can have up to 5 savings accounts with names for each account. Two of my accounts are for cars with the following amounts in the respective accounts:

    Blue Porsche Boxster Account $36,577.97
    New Car Account $24,928.64

    Aside from the interest accrued in these accounts, the money has been sitting in each of the accounts for about 5 years. Instead of spending time to find the right cars to purchase, I still drive a 1995 Camry and two years ago on a whim I purchased a 2003 Solara in excellent condition for $9,500 as my spare car until I purchase my other two cars.

    I like spending money on travel, fine wine, and fine dining. But when it comes to material possessions, I procrastinate a lot. (The furnace in my house is the original one installed when the house was built in 1970.) Perhaps that is why I will be better off in retirement than 90 percent of baby boomers even though I semi-retired at the age of 40, when my net worth was MINUS $30,000 due to student loans. And I have worked
    less than half of my adult life.

    As Jon Hanson said in his book Good Debt, Bad Debt, “Not to have a mania for buying things is to possess a revenue stream.”

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    The Prosperity Guy
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 200,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    • retirebyforty February 14, 2014, 9:58 am

      That’s a great example with the car funds! I’m pretty lazy too. Our HVAC from the 60s are not working anymore and I put it off for 2 years already. Our climate is moderate and we only really need the HVAC a few days/year. I’d better get it fixed soon, though. The missus is getting impatient with this one.

  • Clarisse @ Savvy Scot February 14, 2014, 1:22 am

    Yes, I really do procrastinate when it comes to spending money. Last year I really wanted to buy a Samsung S3 because my smart phone was broken when I unexpectedly dropped it! But then the price was too expensive, so I didn’t buy it, surprisingly, last Christmas my hubs gave me a gift and when I opened it was S3! He said he bought it with a very good discounted price because of the holiday season.

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