How to Beat the Car Dealer

This is a guest post

It happened over 17 million times last year. Someone bought a car or truck in the U.S. (source: CNN.com) And in many of those purchases the buyer wondered if they got a good deal or if they would have been better off repairing their old ride.

Should you repair or replace your ride?

Before you start shopping you’ll need to decide if your old car is worth repairing. There are a number of questions that can help you decide.
Begin by finding out what the repair will cost. Get an estimate from an honest mechanic. Then do a little online research on that repair to validate the mechanic’s estimate.

Next ask yourself how many more miles your car will likely last if you do the repair. It’s one thing to make the repair and get another 30,000 or 40,000 miles. Something totally different if another repair is likely to crop in just a matter of months.

What will your car be worth if the repair is done? With the average age of a vehicle on U.S. highways at over 11 years the cost of the repair could exceed the value of your ride. It doesn’t make sense to spend $3500 replacing a transmission on a car that’s only worth $1700.
Finally, ask yourself how you feel about your vehicle and the repair. Even an expensive repair costs a lot less than a newer car. Don’t allow ‘new car fever’ to make the decision for you.

Shopping for a newer ride

If you decide that a new (or newer) car is for you it’s time to do some research before you go shopping. Sites like Edmunds.com and KBB.com can help you compare various possibilities.

Not only will you be looking for something that you’ll enjoy driving, but also for payments (or better still a cash purchase) that won’t drive your finances into the ditch.

Once you settle on a make, model and target price it’s time to visit the dealer for a test drive. Make sure that the car meets your expectations. If you’re going to be surprised, now is the time to find them.

Next is the step that most shoppers dislike the most – negotiating with the salesperson. It’s you vs. a professional who practices their craft every day. But there’s no need to fear…if you prepare and know their tactics.
Begin by understanding their goal – to close a sale today. Towards that end they’ll ask a variety of questions to get you to admit that you could buy a car today if you liked the deal.

After you’ve agreed that you could buy a car today, they’ll try to find out what you would need in a deal to make a commitment. For some buyers it’s a bottom line price. For others it’s the amount of the monthly payment.

Then the back and forth begins. Don’t hesitate to make demands that you know they can’t meet. The salesperson will lower their price or throw in an option and ask you to make a concession in return. That’s when you’ll give up those demands you didn’t expect to get.

At some point if the negotiations get serious, the salesperson will say he needs to discuss your deal with the manager.

If they come back and say “you’re way off” you’ll either need to make a much better offer or walk out the door. If they indicate that “a deal might be there” it’s time to buckle your seat belt for the real negotiation.

Don’t be afraid to let them know that you’re ready to take the right deal. In doing so you’re reminding them that you’re just one or two steps away from making them a sale.

If you’re trading a car keep the negotiations separate. Deal on the new car first. Only then get into how much your car is worth in trade. By keeping them separate you maintain your leverage on each deal.

Don’t be afraid to break off the negotiations and walk out. You may get a call half an hour later saying that they can do your deal or asking you to return because you’re very close to getting a deal done.

One more negotiation: the business office

Once you’ve negotiated the price of the new car and your trade it’s time to navigate the final speed bump: the business manager and his dealership fees.

The business manager has one primary job function – to maximize profit for the dealer. That means that he or she is not your friend. They want to get you into financing that’s the most profitable for the dealer that’s acceptable to you, include as many add-ons as possible and not do anything that will blow up the sale.

Knowing that gives you 3 tools to protect yourself.

First, if you’ll be financing the car, do your loan shopping before you head to the dealer. Know how much you can borrow, the length of the loan, what interest rate you’ll pay and what your monthly payments will be. Unless the business manager offers a better deal use the financing that you’ve already arranged.

Next you’ll need to negotiate over the various fees and add-ons that the dealer will want to sell you. Do you need upholstery protectant or insurance to make your payments if you lose your job? You may want some, but it’s unlikely that you’ll benefit from everything they offer.
Finally remember that the deal is not complete until you sign the contract. And even then in some states there’s a ‘cooling off period’ during which you can change your mind. If the business manager insists on add-ons that you don’t want you’re free to walk away from the deal. Just knowing that you’re willing to walk should keep the business manager from taking advantage of you.

There you have it. A blueprint for getting the best deal on a new car. Hope you enjoy your new wheels!

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com in 1996. He’s been helping people “live better for less” for over 35 years.

The Cheapest Way To Refill Your Soda Stream

I love sparkling water.

It has been a long time since I’ve had any interest in flavoured soda of any type. I stopped drinking it for a few years when I was super health conscious and now it just tastes overly sweet to me.

But I still love those bubbles.

Which is why I invested in a SodaStream. For those unfamiliar with this wonderful machine it is an appliance that can carbonate tap water in 5 seconds.

The gas bottle that comes with the standard size carbonates 60L of water approximately. They cost $30 for a new bottle but once you own one you can exchange the empty bottles at Walmart for only $10.50.

However, being the frugal gal that I am, I found myself wondering if there were even cheaper ways to get it done. And that is when I found the below video about refilling your cylinder with dry ice!

WARNING: Please be careful if you decide to do this. I have done it before and it has worked for me but handling dry ice and playing around with the pressure involved in gas canisters is no joke. You could hurt yourself. If you have any reservations whatsoever, just pay for the exchange.

Use 410 grams of dry ice to fill a 60L bottle. In my experience unless your buying quite a lot of dry ice at once you don’t quite manage to only pay $1 for these refills but there are significant savings to be had here!

Save Over $25.00 a Hour Making Your Own Laundry Soap

During the last couple of months, I have been looking for a large stock pot casually as I went to thrift stores to make my own laundry soap.  Well now that I found one for $6.00 at Goodwill, I figured it was time to do it.

I have only ever used liquid laundry soap, which takes a bit more preparation than making a dry laundry soap.  I used a recipe I found at Wellness Mama after doing a google search.

So, yea you can make your own laundry soap, but is it really worth your time?

To be frank… it is definitely worth your time.

So how did I come up with over $25.00 an hour savings?

Well first, I compared that to the cheapest alternative of laundry soap that I could use.  Now I cannot use the cheapo stuff, my skin gives a reaction.  I have had to use either All or Tide brands in the past.  Of those two All was generally the cheaper alternative.  So when I was picking up supplies at Walmart to make this, I looked at the price per load for their largest liquid laundry soap for All.

That price was $0.09975 per load

Now making my own laundry soap costs $0.013 per load, but a single batch makes 5 gallons or 160 loads!

So buying that much in All detergent would cost $14.96, and the work took a total of 30 minutes for a cost of $2.02 for the entire batch, so for a half hour, I saved $12.94 or  $25.88 per hour!

Is it actually difficult to make the laundry soap?

No, for the most part, I followed the steps provided on the blog, and I have a step-by-step with a few pictures.

  1. Fill your pot with a 1/2 gallon of water.
  2. Grate your bar soap directly into the pot with water.  I used a Kirk’s Castile Coconut Oil Soap bar that I got in a 3-pack.
  3. Gradually Heat the mixture and stir occasionally until dissolves
  4. Add 4.5 Gallons of water and stir in 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Super Washing Soda
  5. Stir well and turn off heat.
  6. Cover pot and leave overnight
  7. Give it a good stir until smooth and use a 1/2 cup per load of laundry!

Optional step: transferring all of the liquid into other containers (such as old laundry soap container or milk jugs), I am lazy and just store it all in the pot I got from Goodwill.  Once it is low then maybe I will dump the last gallon or two into a couple of containers so that I can make the next batch.

The Most Important Personal Finance Concept?

There are many important factors to consider in personal finance. Opportunity cost, rate of return, interest on loans or investments. But if you asked me to select the single most important factor in making decisions, what would my answer be?

My answer would be cash flow.

This is really what all of our efforts boil down to. Generating the largest amount of free cash flow so that we can retire when we want to. Now there are really three ways to increase your cash flow, assuming you have debt. One is to decrease reoccurring expenses, another way is to invest, and lastly, pay off your debts.  So let’s go over some of these areas and talk about the advantages and disadvantages of these things when trying to increase the spread of cash flow.

Decrease Reoccurring Expenses

You may wonder why financial articles always seem to poke fun at weekly lattes and a monthly cable subscription.  It is not that the single expenses are expensive in and of themselves, but cumulatively they are very expensive.  Take the weekly Starbucks, or whatever brand you may prefer.  Say you spend $4.00 a week that is just $208 a year.  Not too bad!  But let’s consider what it costs to maintain that habit.

Assuming a 4% yield after inflation on your investments, you need an extra $5,200 ($208 divided by .04) saved to maintain this habit.  And really most dividends and the S&P 500 index are not yielding near this amount currently.  So let’s look at Vanguard’s S&P 500 index fund, the yield is currently showing 1.95%.  So let’s say 2% for simplicity, you would need $10,400 dollars in the S&P 500 index to fund your weekly coffee without worries.

And this gets worse with more expensive habits like cable or satellite television.  Say you have some combo deal for $100 combining TV and internet and the internet will cost $35 without the combo pack.  So you are looking at $65 a month, or $780 a year.  Using the base of 4% yield you need $19,500 to keep your TV indefinitely.

It is important to note that these numbers above do not take into account the costs of taxes for your income, so it is possible that you may need even more to maintain these in retirement.  This is why when I find ideas to decrease expenses I like to try them out and if it worked for me I feel no shame in sharing.  Such as switching to a prepaid phone, making my own laundry soap, and cutting my own hair.  I read articles about people using Amazon prime, or how their membership works for them at Costco.  I cannot emphasize enough that this is one of the more important areas and why so many articles focus on it.  When you make changes in this area not only are you decreasing your future cash needs but you immediately increasing your cash flow allows you to save more now as well.

Increasing Cash Flow Passively

Investing in Dividend Stocks

This is probably my personal favourite way to increase cash flow presently.  My favourite example of how this strategy works is the blog Dividend Mantra.  Jason has built a six-figure portfolio on a middle-class income in a small amount of time.  This is now generating a decent cash flow that will in time meet all of his financial needs.  There are many who argue that index investing is superior, and I would say that the overall returns are more than likely to be superior, but when you look at this form of investing from a cash flow perspective dividend investing is king.  You have a more stable stream of income and as a result, a change in the stock prices will more than likely not result in a change in your lifestyle.

Land-lording or Real Estate Investment Trusts

I am nowhere near an expert in this area, but I must admit it is intriguing.  There are a lot of blogs and resources that focus solely on this area of building income, one of which is No Nonsense Landlord.  This is an area that someday I may want to try out, but really I am not sure if it is for me or not.  Some of the risks include damage done by tenants and vacancy and I don’t desire to jump into this realm while having to rely on steady cash flow.  I think it is something you can either start early to get a feel for how things are running in your personal rental, or start later when the cash flow would be a bonus.  Personally, I would like to try it out later when I don’t need the cash flow to live off of.

That said, you can still invest in real estate without directly owning a rental unit.  With Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs.  This can be a way to invest in a diversified market and remove yourself from the issues of repairing a unit and dealing with a vacancy.

Interest

Interest returns are not that great in the current environment, but that does not mean that will last forever.  Besides earning a respectable interest on your checking account, you can invest in bonds.  Bonds have different classifications for their risk level, with ratings done in letters (the highest rank depends upon the agency).  Usually the higher the interest rate, the riskier the bond.

Now the odd thing about bonds is, in a rising interest rate environment, the value of present bonds decreases.  That is because in order to make themselves competitive with the current market rate, if you are to sell a bond then you must less it for less.  On the other hand, when the interest rates are decreasing the value of your bond increases to adjust to the current market interest rate.  If you buy individual bonds are hold to maturity you will receive the face value back regardless.  When interest rates begin to increase I may consider investing in some bonds to diversify in this area.

Paying Down Debt

The last area to improve your cash flow is to pay down debt if you have any.  The thing about paying off debt is you will probably get the higher return on your cash flow in doing so because part of your monthly payments include principal.  This does not mean it is the best investment, but it is more than likely the fastest way to increase your spread in cash flow.  That is why the method of snowballing is so effective for people paying off debt.  It is not that they will be paying the least amount of interest in this method.  But it is that they see perhaps the fastest result in decreasing their monthly obligations.

I am not advocating for everyone to pay off low-interest debt instead of investing, but what I am saying is that it can be the right thing for someone to do who is struggling on a monthly basis to get some air.

Meatless Monday – Roast Pumpkin and Honey Soup

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, meal planning is key.

You can save a lot of money buying fresh but if you don’t keep on top of things then what you buy can quickly turn and you just end up throwing cash in the bin. Deciding how much to buy can be a precise art. As I’m sure I will write about more in other articles, you want to visit the grocery store as infrequently as possible. You will always spend more overall on lots of small trips rather than one big shop. But if you buy too much of one thing you’re sure to see wastage

However, there are exceptions to this rule. One of them for me is pumpkin. Pumpkins are huge, cheap and seem to last forever. If you get a big one, it can sometimes seem like you are putting pumpkin in every meal and just not getting through it.

This recipe is my go-to when I just want to get leftover pumpkin out of my fridge. As with most soups this is ideal because it freezes so well that it doesn’t really matter how much of it you make.

 

Ingredients (for four)

  • 1kg of pumpkin cut into 1-2 inch chunks with skin on (separate the pips as well)
  • 2 brown onions
  • Keens curry powder
  • Honey
  • Roughly 1 litre of vegie stock (or chicken of you’re not fussed about the vegetarian thing)
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Sriracha sauce (optional)
  • Greek yoghurt to garnish

Steps

  1. Heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.
  2. Put chopped pumpkin and onion, peeled and cut into wedges, in a baking tray. Drizzle olive oil over everything then a tablespoon or so of curry powder and drizzle a couple tablespoons of honey, then mix so the pumpkin and onion are fully coated. This is all flavouring so measurements are only rough guides. Do it to your own tastes (that’s what I do). Keeping the pumpkin skin on is also key to this soup. When roasted it will add a deep caramelized flavour to the soup and, like the skin of many fruit and vegetables, it is packed with a lot of great nutrients and goodies.
  3. Roast the pumpkin until the pumpkin is completely soft and the tops are starting to crisp and brown.
  4. Put the contents of the baking tray into a pot on the stove (don’t leave anything, scrape in all the crispy and crunchy goodies). Put in about a litre of stock, bring to boil and then reduce to a consistence simmer. Let the pumpkin break up for a while. How much stock you use will depend on how thick you want your soup. I litre will give you a quite a thick liquid.
  5. While the pumpkin is simmering, melt some butter and mix in the Sriracha sauce is using. Toss the pumpkin seeds in this mixture and pop it in the oven to crisp then up They go from crispy to burnt in a matter of seconds so monitor them closely. This will be used as a garnish that adds a nice bit of crunch to the soup and is also a really yummy way to use more of the pumpkin.
  6. Blend the pumpkin, onions and stock into a smooth mixture.
  7. Put the soup into some bowls and top with some roasted seeds and a dap of Greek yoghurt.

 

The 5-Step Guide To Doing It

Welcome to The Frugal Mrs Jones’s 5-step guide to doing it. What is it? In this case, it can be something, anything, and everything — paying off your credit cards, starting an emergency fund, asking someone out, calling your parents, eating something other than ramen, paying your bills, balancing your checkbook, creating a budget, cutting your expenses, getting a hair cut, getting them all cut, planning a vacation, eliminating your debt, finishing your thesis, or walking your dog.

Step 1: Admit that you need to do it.

The first step is to simply admit that it needs to be done. This is easier said than done. It’s really easy to put it off until you’re not as busy, or any of the other excuses you can come up with. However, the truth is that it will never get done until you face the reality that you need to do it.

Step 2: Convince yourself that you can do it.

Now that you’ve admitted that it needs to be done, the next challenge is convincing yourself that you can actually do it. To do this, you have to overcome your fear of failure. The key thing to remember is that there’s a 100% chance of failure if you never try doing it in the first place.

Step 3: Start doing it.

The previous two steps were just mental preparation for this step. Now it’s time to start the physical act of doing it. This is probably the easiest step of the entire process. A lot of people start doing it, but many people never make it any farther.

Step 4: Keep doing it.

You have to keep it up once you start doing it. Beware of this step though because if you blow it here, you may end up falling back down to Step 1. You will experience obstacles along the way, and it’ll be tempting to take the easy way out. However, instead of giving up, remind yourself of why you need to do it and the fact that you can do it.

Step 5: Do it until it’s done.

You can finally see the finish line, but it still seems so far away. Well, put on your glasses, throw in your contacts, or get laser eye surgery! You’re almost done, so just keep doing it. Finish what you needed to do and what you know you can do by doing it until it’s done.

7 Ways for College Students to Save Money Over the Summer

For college students, the summer is a great opportunity to get a head start on financing the upcoming school year — or it can mean frittering away what you’ve worked hard to save the previous year. Hopefully you’re determined to fall into the former category and see the next few months as a building block rather than a stumbling block for your financial future.

If so, here are seven ways you can save money over the summer:

1. Work.

Obviously the best way to keep your cash flow flowing throughout the summer is to get a job and have money coming in.

Whether it’s mowing lawns or working at a friend’s mother’s law office, make sure you have something to do so you’re not only spending money, you’re also replacing it — and possibly even saving up for the fall.

2. Stay away from late night fast food.

Aside from being the healthy thing to do, staying away from fast food is also money-smart. Yes, it’s easy to pull into a drive-thru when you get hungry on a late summer evening, but those overpriced milkshakes and fries add up fast.

Guard against late night fast food binges by making sure you have plenty of snacks in the house — even if you’re still not going to grab a piece of fruit, a bag of frozen french fries will be cheaper than stopping at a fast food place.

3. Volunteer.

If you volunteer, you won’t have money coming in, but at least it’ll keep you busy. One of the big reasons students spend more money than they should throughout the summer is because they have nothing else to do.

Think about it, what do you do when you’re bored in the summer? Go to the mall? Go out to eat? Go grab a five-dollar iced coffee? Stop boredom in its tracks by filling up your time with volunteering at a children’s summer camp, nursing home, or whatever interests you — as an added bonus, you’ll be helping others in the process.

4. Take classes at a local college.

Yes, you’ll be spending money to take the class, but it might be cheaper than taking courses at your university and even help you graduate sooner, saving you money overall.

And again, you’ll be keeping yourself busy between going to class and studying, so that will leave you far less time to be bored and wondering where you can spend money.

5. Travel frugally.

For many students, summer is a time for taking off and seeing and experiencing new people, places, and things — as well it should be so long as you can afford it. Decide first how much money you have to spend on a vacation and then pick your destination.

When choosing where to go, don’t forget all the interesting places close to home that maybe you have never visited, or you’ve only seen as an elementary school student. Before your trip, budget everything (transportation costs, accommodation, meals, admission fees, extras like souvenirs, etc.), and stick to it as closely as possible.

6. Start your own tip jar.

Yes, this is common sense, but a great way to save money is by literally putting it away somewhere and not touching it.

Start your own tip jar by throwing in loose change, or, consider putting in each and every five-dollar bill you receive; you’d be surprised at how quickly they add up.

7. Get school books early.

As summer winds down and you start thinking about school again, consider getting a jump start on the semester buy buying your books ahead of time, preferably online for maximum savings.

Meatless Monday – Sriracha Lime Roasted Chickpeas

Let me begin by stating I could probably live the rest of my life without ever eating another sweet.  While I do enjoy them on occasion, they are not what I crave when I actually crave something.  My downfall has always been salty/crunchy.  And nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, satisfies that craving better than sitting down with a bowl of freshly popped popcorn drizzled with butter.

As for the Chickpeas, I’ve never been a fan.  While they were meaty I also found them too pasty.  Their texture was a total turn off to me and every recipe I come across that uses them I substitute a different bean, usually Cannellini.  But the more I read the more I discovered that these crunchy, little, flavored nuggets were satisfying the cravings of my fellow popcorn fanatics, in a healthier way,  so I knew I had to try them.

There are a bazillion different ways to flavor them but the main gist is to use 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt per can of beans.  After that, the flavoring possibilities are practically endless.

I did a lot of recipe reading before Mr. Foodie left town and settled on two flavor profiles.  I then spent an entire Saturday afternoon and part of Sunday playing around with them.  Sriracha with Lime and Wasabi (hoping to find something like Wasabi Peas).  I ended up doing six different batches.  Straight from the can, from the can but peeling each and every bean (based on one blogger’s preference) and marinating overnight.  If you have anything close to Carpal Tunnel I DO NOT recommend peeling each and every bean.  I don’t have the affliction but by the time I was done peeling an entire can of beans I was definitely ready for a pain pill…or a very stiff drink.

In the end, the Wasabi was a total failure no matter what I did.  I was left with a bunch of black, burnt, balls with a bitter flavor that was totally inedible.  As for peeling, the peas shrunk to about half their size and while they may have been a tad bit crunchier there was no noticeable difference in flavor.  Save your wrists and finger tips.  Peeling is unnecessary in my opinion.  The same with marinating overnight.  No noticeable difference in flavor, at least as far as the Sriracha is concerned.  If you want some roasted chickpeas just open a can, drain them, rinse them, rub off any existing loose skins so they don’t burn, season and roast.

Period.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Chickpeas
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-½ teaspoon Sriracha Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Lime Juice
  • ½ teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Grated Lime Zest

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Zest the lime and set aside.
  4. Rinse and drain chickpeas. With a paper towel, pat dry and rub chickpeas to get off any loose skins.
  5.  In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, Sriracha sauce, lime juice and sea salt. Add chickpeas to the sauce and toss to coat.
  6. Dump the chickpeas evenly on the pan.
  7. Place in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until crunchy.
  8. Remove from baking sheet to a bowl and sprinkle with reserved lime zest.  Toss to coat and allow to cool.
  9. Once cool, store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

So here’s my honest opinion.

My popcorn addiction runs too deep.  It is firmly embedded in my DNA at this point.  I’m not sure anything will ever come close to satiating that craving.

With that said, these are quite the tasty little buggers.

Not blow my mind, over the top but they are crunchy and quite tasty and I love the fact that I’m getting a little protein from them.

They are good for when you need a handful of something crunchy or as a salad topping in place of starchy croutons.  I also wouldn’t hesitate to throw a bowl of these out at my next party.

I’ll do them again and will continue to experiment with different flavor profiles and report back!

Meatless Monday – Summer Vegetable Pancakes

Got Summer Squash?

Are you in the never-ending battle of looking for new ways to use them?

Me, too.

Give these little guys a try before summer ends.

Mr. Foodie grew up eating something similar and, in full disclosure, he enjoyed these much more than I did.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with them.  I just thought they’d be…I don’t know…”lighter”, maybe?  I think I was expecting them to be more like a Potato Pancake, kind of light and fluffy.  The texture is much more dense and I think more than anything, because they weren’t what I was expecting, I may have over-judged them a bit.  However, since he liked them and gave them Two-Thumbs-Up I figured the issue was mine alone and they deserved a post.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • hot sauce to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Steps

In one bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.

In another large bowl, beat egg.  Then add hot sauce, milk, carrot, zucchini, and onion.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium heat.  When oil is hot, drop mixture in by the tablespoon.  Flatten slightly with back of spoon.  Cook until golden, about 2 minutes, then flip and continue cooking on the other side.

Drain on paper towels.

These look burnt but they weren’t.  I had made them earlier in the day and we reheated them on the top rack of our grill while our chicken was grilling.  They got a little more browned while they warmed through but did not burn.

Give these a try and let me know what you think.

Why We Procrastinate

I was going to write this post the other night, but I decided to put it off until later. I’ve noticed that I’ve been doing that with a lot of things in my life lately — paying bills, filing my taxes, responding to emails, writing blog posts. Why is this happening?

Studies show that some of the most common reasons for procrastination include:

  • Fear and anxiety of the task
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Bad time management
  • Lack of confidence that you can succeed
  • Fear of failure
  • The quest for perfectionism
  • Personal issues (love life, finances, etc.)

That seems like a pretty comprehensive list of the human experience. I’m guessing that most of you have experienced at least one or, more likely, all of the items listed above at one point or another in your life. If not, then you might want to see a doctor to make sure you’re not a robot. The truth is we all procrastinate.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
— Mark Twain

I must admit that I have some fear and anxiety about doing my own taxes for the first time, which may explain why I still haven’t finished them yet. The fact that I already know that I’ll owe the IRS some more money when I do file my taxes may be another reason I’ve been putting them off.

Procrastination is really just a battle against yourself. The obstacles that keep us from getting things done are all in our head. How many times have you used the “I just don’t have enough time” excuse? Have you ever spent so much time trying to make something perfect that you never actually get it done?

The key to overcoming these obstacles is turning your irrational thoughts and fears into concrete goals and tasks. If you set more realistic goals for yourself, then you’ll be less likely to get stuck on trying to make something perfect before moving on. If you prioritize the tasks to reach your goals, then you’ll see that there is enough time to get most, if not all, of your tasks done.

With that being said, what’s the point of trying to overcome procrastination? If we all procrastinate, then won’t we just put off overcoming procrastination too?