"There are people who have money and people who are rich." - Coco Chanel

Are You Financially Lazy?

By , August 8th, 2008 | 9 Comments »

One reason that people have trouble with their finances is that they tend to be lazy about managing them. That is not to say that one should spend 24 hours a day making sure every little financial detail is in order, but when you begin to lose money in ways that could be solved with a small amount of time and organization, you’ve joined the many people who are financially lazy. Here are 10 signs that you may be one of them:

You still have your savings in a brick-and-mortar bank

Part of taking care of your finances is to maximize the amount of interest your money earns. Most brick-and-mortar banks pay a paltry amount on their savings accounts. With online banks paying much higher interest rates with $1 minimums and no fees, you’re being lazy with your money if you are not taking advantage of at least one of these offers.

You have subscriptions you don’t use

One reason that many service providers offer a great initial deal on their services is to get you to sign up for their program. They know that once signed up, many people are too lazy to cancel their subscription. If you have subscribed to a service that you don’t use but haven’t canceled it yet, you are being financially lazy. It could be anything from magazines that you don’t read to a gym membership that you don’t use as much as you’d planned. Whatever it is, if you are paying for something on an ongoing basis that you are not using, you need to cancel it.

Your phone service is over or underutilized

Most people get a phone service with certain add-ons (if a land line) or minutes (if a cell phone) and keep it. The problem is that how you thought you would use the phone and how you actually use it are often quite different. If you have overages every month or large amounts of unused minutes on your cell phone, then you need to change the minutes you pay for to better reflect your calling habits. If you have options on your land line such as call waiting that you never use, you need to get rid of them. Keeping a plan that doesn’t fit the way you use it is being financially lazy.

You don’t pay off your credit card in full each month

Credit cards should be a tool used to your advantage and not one that keeps you in debt. If you are carrying a balance on your credit card, then you have been spending more money than you have and need to rework your budget. That budget should include paying more than the minimum to defeat your previous laziness.

You don’t compare your insurance rates once a year

Insurance is a competitive industry with rates that continually fluctuate. No matter what type of insurance you’re paying for, you should do a comparison once a year to make sure that the rate your paying is competitive. If you don’t get around to checking once a year, you’re being financially lazy and likely paying more than you need to be.

You pay banking fees

Banking fees are usually the result of not paying attention to the amount that you have in your account. A bank is a place to keep your money so you can earn more money, not a place to lose money by paying fees. If you pay banking fees on a regular basis (or even every once in a while), you are being lazy about keeping track of how much you have in the accounts, and you need to start keeping track so that fees are no longer a drain on your finances.

You have more than an occasional ATM fee

ATM fees can add up to hundreds of dollars just to get your own money. When you pay to access something that is already yours, it’s a sign of financial laziness. If you haven’t looked for a bank or credit union that doesn’t charge ATM fees or you haven’t come up with a plan so that you have enough money and don’t need to accrue those ATM fees, you need to do so now.

You don’t contribute the full 401(k) match your company offers

One of the greatest perks you can get from a company you work for is matching funds for contributions you make to their 401(k) plan. If your company matches your 401(k) contributions and you are not putting in the full amount up to the match, you are basically throwing away free money. Throwing away free money is always being financially lazy. You need to make sure that you are investing the full match amount or figure out a way that you can.

You’re not contributing to an IRA

“I don’t have enough money to contribute to an IRA” is a financially lazy excuse because the longer you wait, the more it’s going to cost you due to the power of compound interest. If you don’t believe that you have enough money to contribute to an IRA, then you need to sit down and make a plan for how you can afford to contribute.

You wait until the last minute to do your taxes

While I am using taxes in this example, it really applies to any financial matter you wait until the last minute to complete. Waiting until the last minute means that mistakes are much more likely to occur, you may miss deductions that you qualify for in the rush to complete them, and you may incur fees if you can’t get it done on time. It’s a financially lazy attitude to not give yourself plenty of time to complete all the financial tasks you have.

If you find that any of the above issues rings true to your finances, it’s time to make a change. The positive point is that even if you have been financially lazy in the past, you can solve this with only a bit of effort once you recognize the areas in which you should be doing more. Learning to defeat your financially lazy impulses can go a long way to helping you get your finances in order.

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  • James says:

    I think it’s laziness in a sense, but I also think that it’s a little more than that. People don’t give their finances the attention they deserve. I don’t think most people even know that they can get better rates at an on-line bank or that it’s worth their money to shop around.

    Brand loyalty is a large part of it too. Other things factor into peoples’ equations, such as customer service, location, etc., that it’s hard to place a dollar value on. To people like us, cost is key, but that’s not always the case.

  • Bonnie says:

    Good article. I recently shopped around for car insurance and ended up getting double the coverage for $600. less. $600! And that’s for six months, not a year. I was surprised. We’d been with the first company for six years and it seemed they were raising our rates every six months. We had no accidents or claims either. Ever. One thing that surprised me more was the new agent mentioning that we got a cut in rates because we were with our old company for a long time. So now they are pricing in car insurance shopping? Sheesh.

  • Aleta says:

    I think being lazy can even be when you leave money in an account that is getting a lower interest rate and you don’t transfer it to a higher savings vehicle.

    Sometimes going to a bank too often for depositing checks or smaller amounts can cost you more in gas than what you are losing in interest. I arrange my errands so that I can shop and deposit any checks in the same trip.

    I arrange my money in the largest amounts to the smallest and add the interest rate beside it. There are cases where you have cash money at home that isn’t earning interest. I see if I can’t move the money around to get the best rates.

  • hi050800 says:

    I think that we’ve all lost the “value” of our money. It’s so easy to use cards and we just don’t track it until it’s at $0 then we try to remember what we spent it on! There is a great product available called a Personal Budget Organiser. I have one and it’s just a normal wallet with 5 extra tabbed sections inside to organise the budget. It works best for me when I put cash into each section, because I can see what’s left! I bought mine online at http://www.secretbudget.net and it’s the best thing I’ve done for my household budget!

  • SaveForHouse says:

    I would also say that another aspect of financial laziness is not investing time to read about personal finance. Whether it’s the internet, books, TV, or even board games such as Robert Kiyosaki’s Cash Flow, everyone should spend at least a few hours each week enriching their financial education. Expanding your universe through financial education will pay huge dividends over the long run and perhaps allow you to be a little lazy on some of the smaller things.

  • Darren says:

    Apathy accounts for most of the profits extracted from consumers.

    Confusion + people + laziness = profit for others

    And I’d like to add that another great book is “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S Clason. A very easy to read book on wealth and finance, told through parabals.

    An hour or two of financial education is very empowering.

  • Gabriele says:

    Laziness may be one reson that people don’t manage their finances well, but another reason is fear and a knowledge deficit…also based on fear, or a math dedicit causing fear. It’s not just black & white. The psyche can do a number on our financial status 🙁 which is why people like Opra have people like Suze Ormon and David Bach help people in financial distress. Those issues keep Suze & David well employed…as well as Opra! I know, I listened to those shows, and got myself out of financial ruin!

  • Gail says:

    Sometimes being ‘lazy’ can work in our favor. I am always on the lookout for easy passive ways to save. Those are the things that once you sign up, you receive the benefit of the savings year after year with no thought about it. We had the opportunity to sign up for on-line handling of our IRAs. This was a $25 savings eacy year for each IRA. Total of $50 a year till whenever. As much as I never liked direct withdrawals, I found that signing up for them for certain bills, saved money off the bill plus the stamps. One bill paid monthly by mail takes $5.04 at current postage rates.

    In the book Cheaper By the Dozen, the father was an efficieny expert. He would go into a factory and ask to see the laziest guy (that got his work done). Inevitably the ‘lazy’ guy had used efficient techniques that saved him time and effort. So when you think about lazy, you have to think about lazy in the context of whether or not they are achieving their financial goals in an easy efficient manner or are they just too lazy to care about financial goals. I would love to watch the efficient lazy person and see how they do. Many financial things can be but on automatic pilot which frees us up to find more things to do to save on automatic pilot.


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