Last month, Forbes published an article about all the ways your laziness is costing you. As a semi-reformed layabout (Kris would say I haven’t reformed at all!), I read the article with interest. I recognized some of my old money habits — and some I still have.
Author Daniel Adler writes:
These days countless businesses make hay by taking advantage of our collective indolence — everything from not bothering to spend 15 minutes surfing the Web for a better rate on a savings account to not taking half as much time to mail a $50 rebate on a new laptop computer.
Here are some of the ways Forbes says laziness can cost you money. (The bullet points are from Forbes, but the rest of the text is from me.)
- Not choosing the best rate on your savings account. While it’s probably not a good idea to become a rate-chaser, it doesn’t make much sense to keep the bulk of your savings in a big bank savings account earning 0.20%. Find a local credit union or an online bank where you can earn a decent return on your money. Even though rates are low right now, they’ll rise in the future, and you’ll be glad your money is earning interest for you.
- Not opening a retirement fund (as soon as possible). Never forget the power of compounding. The younger you begin to save, the more time your money has to work for you. Even if you’re older, you should still get started as soon as possible. I didn’t begin saving until I was 37, and I’ve now watched much of my retirement money wither away, but I’m continuing to put money aside for the future. If your employer matches your 401(k) contributions, take advantage of this free money. And don’t forget to max out your Roth IRA.
- Not sending in rebate offers. Ah, yes. That “not sending in the rebate” thing has bitten me before. It’s a good way to turn a bargain into a run-of-the-mill deal. Manufacturers offer rebates instead of actual discounts because they know a large percentage of purchasers will never follow through.
- Not paying attention to 0% financing deadlines. When you buy something with zero percent interest, there’s a catch. If you don’t pay in full by the end of the grace period, Adler writes, “the often very steep interest rate that kicks in applies not to the remainder of the debt, but the entire original purchase price.” Zero percent is only a bargain if you aren’t lazy.
- Waiting until the last minute to send mail. This one has nailed me, too. A decade ago, I was a chronic sloth with my mail. (“Sloth Roth,” Kris would call me.) I’d mail things on the day they were due, and then moan about the late fees I received. Now I try to mail my bills on the day I receive them. (Or, better yet, to pay automatically online.)
- Not taking advantage of corporate wellness incentives. If your employer pays for health-related benefits, you ought to take them. I think this is true of many benefits. Some companies offer paid gym memberships (though you may have to pay taxes on this). But most employees are too lazy to take advantage of the offer. At the box factory, we would pay for one class per employee per term at any public school they chose. Few employees took us up on the offer. (I took many classes via this benefit!)
- Not bothering to negotiate a deal. Many people are averse to haggling. But if you’re just avoiding it because you’re lazy, you’re missing out on a chance to save. You don’t have to haggle on everything. But haggle where it makes sense, and your pocketbook will thank you. (Here’s how one GRS reader uses haggling to save big bucks.)
The full article has more details, and the accompanying slideshow highlights other ways in which laziness may be costing you money.
Laziness isn’t as much of an issue for me as it used to be. I’m much more motivated to manage my money. Still, I do make mistakes from time-to-time. Here are a few of the ways laziness continues to cost me money:
- When I’m just too lazy to make dinner at home, I end up spending more in restaurants.
- When I’m too lazy to maintain my tools, they rust or break. (I recently had a scare with my lawnmower. I hadn’t changed the oil on it once in five years — because I was lazy — and the blade seized up. Turns out the oil wasn’t an issue, but you can bet I’ll change the oil every year going forward!)
- When I’m too lazy to reply to e-mail from potential advertisers, they find somebody else to work with. I miss out on that revenue.
- When I’m too lazy to go see the doctor, my running injuries linger for months instead of being resolved in weeks.
Not everyone is lazy, of course. And even those of us who are chronic loafers have areas where we shine. I’ve written something substantive nearly every day for the past eight years, for example. Plus I’ll often walk to do my errands. I’m not completely lazy!
What about you? How has laziness cost you money? Did you take steps to prevent problems in the future?
Photo by superbomba.