I had no idea what to write yesterday.
We spent last week at my dad’s lake house, lounging around in wet bathing suits to beat the heat. Effective, but not conducive to writing blog posts. The weekend was packed with back-to-school shopping, church, Vacation Bible School, a birthday party, and a trip to the inlaws.
Yesterday morning, we got our new second grader packed off to school.
So I stared at a blank page and the page stared back. I glanced through my folder of unfinished drafts. Nothing doing. I skimmed the headlines on Yahoo! Finance and read a dozen blog posts. Nope.
Suddenly other things started to seem more important. Anything but that darn blank page.
Netflix beckoned, as did Facebook. Just because I didn’t know what to do, though, didn’t mean I should just goof off. At least, I should do something constructive.
I started thinking about things that put us in a better financial situation. Little things, things that wouldn’t take very long but nevertheless I had not done them.
Even if I couldn’t figure out what to write about, I could knock some of those suckers off the list.
I Paid a Bill (and Made It Easier to Pay Going Forward)
Last month, I got a “Use It or Lose it” warning from one of my credit cards.
I rarely use the card, because it earns no rewards. However, it has no annual fee, has a sizeable credit limit with no balance, and a decent interest rate. Plus, I’ve had it for a long time. Between all of those factors, it probably contributes quite a bit toward my credit score.
I decided to start using that card for at least one purchase a month.
I used the card to buy gas one day, and the payment was due at the end of the week. Unfortunately, I had a problem. We ran out of stamps two weeks ago, and I keep forgetting to buy them.
On any of my other cards, that’s not a problem. I pay them all online anyway. On this one, though, I hadn’t used my online login in years.
So, instead of going to the store and getting stamps, I reset my login and paid the bill.
Did it save me time? Maybe not this time, but since I use a password program, I should be able to easily pay this bill each month going forward. I’ll keep the card active and paid off and my credit score high.
I Got Rid of High Fees
Almost 2 years ago, I decided to pay a little more attention to the fees in my investments. I had paid way too much for too long and needed to make some changes. Slowly, I have.By this time last year, I’d gotten rid of all the high fee funds in my self-directed accounts and replaced them with Vanguard funds.
When I mentioned selling them to my financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, though, he pushed back a bit. But as of last month, that’s no longer a problem. And while I thought I might need to do a bunch of data entry to make sure that my investment basis tracked over, I realized this weekend that the basis transferred too.
Now I really had no more excuses. All my accounts are in one place. The only thing holding me back from a streamlined portfolio of Vanguard funds was me.
No more procrastinating…at least on that score. I went through my accounts and sold any mutual fund or ETF I could find with more than a 0.5% expense ratio. Boom. The two-year fee reduction project is almost completed.
I Scouted Deals
Today, you may know, is Prime Day on Amazon.com.
Like Black Friday in July! Buy before the deals are gone!
If you can find the right deal, of course.
Limited window deals can be good if they are things you actually need and if you can catch them. So if you need specific things, deal scouting ahead of a big sale can pay off.
We don’t need a lot of stuff. As a matter of fact, we need less stuff. and have actively tried to reduce our clutter. But I got my fancy new Amazon Moto G5 last month, and Jon didn’t get one. So at the very least, I’m looking for an unlocked phone for Jon.
And maybe some early Christmas shopping too. We have some gift cards and credit card points available, so it was worth looking over the list of deals to see if there were any deals too good to pass up.
And then I looked.
There are interesting things on the deal list that we might conceivably enjoy (like a giant inflatable unicorn pool toy that I’m sure my daughter would adore.) And if you have some expensive hobbies, you might find some worthwhile deals on very specific things.
Basically, though, the only thing we need is Jon’s new phone, and the 64 gig Moto G5 is $60 off on Prime Day. That’s 24%, and worth pulling the trigger.
On the rest, we’ll give a pass.
Procrastination for Better Finances
Procrastinating didn’t just give me a blog topic, it gave me better finances!
I made sure I didn’t have a late payment (and the accompanying fee and hit to my credit score) for the credit card. I reduced the cost of investing. And, if I didn’t find a great deal on something I needed, I at least made it less likely that I would get caught up in Prime Day spending madness by scouting sales.
And that was just the easy stuff. What else could I have done?
- Called my internet or insurance provider to negotiate a better rate?
- Cooked some freezer meals or did something else to use up food we need to eat?
- Found some unused stuff around the house for a charitable donation?
- Listed things for sale on a Facebook group, Craigslist, eBay, etc?
- Do something to take care of my long-term health, like scheduling a physical or exercise?
Every day, I realize there are things I’ve left undone for one reason or another. Some of them probably would put us in a better financial place, either short term or long term. When I’m struggling with one thing, I should start on the list of little things I’ve let slide.
It’s way more effective than staring at a blank page.
What are some of the things you know you really need to get done, but you’ve been dragging your heels on? What productive things do you do when you’re procrastinating from other tasks?
The John & Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*