Procrastination and financial success don’t typically go hand in hand.
If you wait until the last minute to buy plane tickets, you’ll usually pay more. If you put off going to the dentist for years, you might have to pony up for a root canal.
But personal finance blog Frugal Fringe has a different take.
The blogger known only as A. Noonan Moose explains in a recent post that in some cases, procrastinating can actually save you money.
He calls the strategy “profitable procrastination.” While it’s not the right approach to expenses like saving for retirement or paying your bills (the earlier, the better!), it could come in handy when replacing your TV, buying plane tickets for next year’s class reunion, or when you’re lured by the shiny leather of that perfectly chocolate-brown bomber jacket. Waiting indefinitely is a more effective method for tackling “wants” than “needs.”
Moose points out:
Buyers have almost complete control over the timing of their purchases (except in rare cases of unanticipated emergencies). Think about it. The seller can’t hold a gun to your head and force you to buy its product. The choice of when to pull the trigger is actually yours. Until the moment you buy, you hold the power.
By reserving this power until exercising it is in your best interest — in other words, by procrastinating — Moose says that you can find better prices and make better decisions. In fact, he can give you examples of times it has saved him personally.
But of course, not buying a new flat-screen may be much more difficult than not reserving a hotel for your cousin’s wedding in Nowheresville. Moose provides nine tips to hold yourself back on his site, and here, we’ve presented three of our favourites:
Set a cooling off period. Create a self-imposed rule to stave off the impulse buys and give you time to compare alternatives. For example, “If I want to buy something over $US100, I’ll wait a month until purchasing.”
Pick an improbably low price point. Tell yourself that you’ll buy it … when it’s on sale for 30% of its original price. You’ll undoubtedly have to wait a while, and when you finally score your desired item, you’ll be triumphant — or you won’t even want it anymore, and you’ll have saved yourself the lot.
Focus on the process. This tip isn’t for everyone, but it’s Moose’s personal favourite. “Time passes quickly when you concentrate on the buying process itself instead of your ultimate objective,” he writes. That means researching other sellers, looking at comparable items, setting alerts for price drops (Hukkster is one service that can help), and generally getting all available information before you buy.
If you have any tips to profitably procrastinate, share them with us in the comments!