Just in case you missed it, we discussed delayed gratification in our podcast episode earlier this week.
Unfortunately our culture is obsessed with instant gratification and it hasn’t done us any financial favors.
For example, we want fast food, fast cars, and free 2 day shipping for everything we order online. We are willing to pay more for these things, especially the free 2 day shipping (as evidenced by the creation of the Amazon Prime program).
We’ve also trained children to want instant gratification from the time they are born. It’s rare to see parents telling their kids “no” when they want something these days.
In fact, there was an entire study dedicated to the psychology behind delayed gratification. It’s called the “Stanford Marshmallow Test” and it’s actually pretty interesting to read about if you’ve got the time (or you can listen to the podcast where we discuss the summary and our love for marshmallows). 🙂
Instant gratification has only been further encouraged by the use of credit cards because many people see credit cards as “free money” or as a way to buy something now and pay for it later.
Luckily, you can learn delayed gratification. Here are 5 tips to help you get started practicing delayed gratification.
Know Your Values
This is something all of us on the Financial Conversation team are big believers in. We’ve said it before, knowing your values will help you direct how you spend your money. When you know what is important to you, no matter what it is, you will be able to make choices that lead you to happiness and financial success.
Have a Plan or Budget
There is a time and place for spontenaiety, but that place is not in your finances. You need to have a financial plan, or budget, to help you reach your financial goals whatever they may be. When you have a plan for your money it’s easier to resist the urge to buy things you haven’t planned on or don’t need.
Make a List
If you know you are going to be tempted to spend money on things you don’t necessarily need, it helps to make a list before you approach your temptation. For example, if you are tempted to spend money on clothes and shoes you don’t really need, make a specific list of what you are shopping for before you go to the mall. Sticking to your specific, written list will help you avoid spending money on instant gratification purchases.
Another way to practice delayed gratification is to prioritize the things you want. Some of us on the Financial Conversation team advocate for “sleeping on it” before deciding to buy something that we don’t necessarily need but really want. Others have even made a written list of things they want only to find out later that their priorities have changed.
When you successfully practice delayed gratification by avoiding spending money on splurge purchases, its ok to reward yourself. It can be difficult to deny yourself all gratification, therefore having small rewards in place from time to time can help you stay motivated to avoid splurging the majority of the time.
Delayed gratification is a skill that can be learned over time. In fact, it will get easier as you practice exercising your will power more often by avoiding splurges.