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The cost of being lazy.

by:
Laurie Campbell

Someone once said that laziness amounts to doing nothing before you get tired. I think there’s some truth in that. Procrastination and puttering about when there’s work to be done actually takes a fair amount of effort and energy. And, in fact, many lazy people even acknowledge it. The teenage son, for example, who when distracted from a video game with a call to take out the garbage, answers with a loud, “I’m busy!”

But I’m not here to pick on teenagers. There are a lot of lazy people in this world. They come in all stripes and from all age groups. And they exist by degree - from the moderately and generally lazy, to the acute slug.

The moderately lazy person does only what is necessary to get on with things. For example, the dutiful father who works a 40-hour week at the office expending a good deal of energy, but who turns into a beached whale at home. Meanwhile, the generally lazy person does less than what most do to get on, but still manages to get by, sometimes through unscrupulous practices. For instance, the college student who uses cash or other means to get others to do his homework for him.

Finally, there is the serious lay-about. Probably a bachelor and a professional fraud, he’s the kind who fakes back injuries to collect work compensation. He may drink a lot of beer and smoke a lot of marijuana while glued to a couch in front of a TV set each and every day. He may fancy himself as poet, though he’s never completed writing - or for that matter reading - a poem. He may answer to the name of Cheech, or maybe Chong.

Most of us fall into the moderately lazy category, which itself has sub degrees, ranging from the example cited above to just a smidgen of laziness involving matters that we deem to be small and unimportant. But there’s the rub. Depending on one’s degree of laziness, and what one considers to be important, all kinds of advantages in life can be lost or gained, particularly in relation to finances.

Take simple everyday things like deli or premade, packaged food at the supermarket. For the privilege of being lazy and not making your own salad or supper, you may spend 20 to 60 percent more on food than you have to. The margins are even greater for bottled water as opposed to installing a tap water filter, which of course would require perhaps three minutes of backbreaking work. Need I mention making your own coffee, and investing in a thermos?

What about other things, like hopping into a cab for a four-block journey on a warm sunny day just because it’s payday and you’ll otherwise be three minutes late if you walk? Or how about ignoring the wealth of online coupons available for savings on all kind of products and services every day of the year? Product rebates anyone? Is it worth the effort to save 10 or more percent on electronic gadgets and major appliances by filling out a simple form? Surprisingly, huge numbers of people never bother to send in their rebate cards – just too much work filling out those five lines to get 50 bucks back on that $600 Hewlett-Packard laptop from Staples.

Searching eBay and online product bidding sites can be arduous work to avoid, too, I guess, even if the effort holds the promise of hundreds of dollars in savings.

How about vehicle maintenance? That’s a prime example of how the lazy can end up spending a bundle because setting aside a Saturday to visit the repair shop takes too much effort. The list goes on and on. Procrastinating on home maintenance till the roof falls in. Failing to read the fine print in mobile contracts and being knocked out by the cost of a roaming message. Ignoring the online power of a SmartPhone to make price comparisons.

In terms of money, surely the biggest shortcoming of all amongst lazy folks is the unwillingness to create a personal budget, set financial goals, and track spending on at least a monthly basis. This is a process that may take a few hours initially to set up, and a few minutes each day to follow. But for lazy types it’s just too much work.

If only the lazy realized how much they stood to gain from getting active and managing their money intelligently. Here at Credit Canada, I’ve seen sad, lazy souls go from abject poverty to full financial security, all thanks to a little work towards understanding the ins and outs of budgeting, smart spending, saving, and applying a little financial vigilance.

So what’s to be done about the laziness that accompanies most spend-as-you-go-lifestyles? I’m not sure punishment is the answer, though there are exceptions. I’m all for a good, swift kick in the butt for any lay-about named Cheech. On the other hand, I’ve found that lazy people generally respond well to incentives.

So how about this: a happy, active life lived with financial peace of mind. Just remember, you can be as lazy as you want when you retire.

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