You want a hot tip? You want to learn the one thing that will deliver success with money? I have what you are looking for. If you have a lot of debt, listen up, this applies to you as well. I will teach you the secret to financial success.
The best part is that it doesn’t involve working tons of hours, a high salary, a fancy degree or luck. You ready for the secret?
Are You Ready?
The idea of delayed gratification is not a sexy concept but it is real. If you practice this you will find financial success.
The concept is simple. Give up something today to receive the benefit of it down the road. That benefit is typically far greater than what you give up.
It is tough to balance though because sometimes “you just have to live.” That is a phrase that you don’t hear often said when talking about delayed gratification. That’s because they aren’t compatible. The mistake people make though is to assume delayed gratification is deprivation. I have said many times, sacrificing to get out of debt or save is not deprivation. It is about giving yourself what you truly deserve.
It is a mindset. That is why it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you are now. It is within your reach to be able to implement this using the resources you currently have.
What Does it Look Like to Delay Gratification?
How does this play out in our daily life? It can be as simple as reducing you cable bill or canceling altogether. Maybe it is to eat out less or not at all. You can take a smaller vacation or skip one altogether. Driving a less expensive or used car is a big part of this.
Those are some typical ideas but there are other specific areas to you that you need to identify. For me, I had to spend less on books and concerts amongst other things. I know I have spent thousands of dollars on these things that didn’t bring me the happiness I thought it would. I was focused on what I wanted at that moment and not what I wanted down the road.
The critical aspect to this though is knowing what are you working towards. There are lots of things to give up but if you don’t know where you are headed it feels hollow. If you want to be successful at delaying gratification you need to figure this out.
How it has Worked for Me
I have been most successful with money in life when I knew what I wanted. When I was 14 my Mom needed help with the chores so she gave me $10 a week for me to clean the house weekly. Amongst keeping the house straight, I also mopped the kitchen floor, cleaned both bathrooms and mowed the lawn. If I washed both cars I would get an extra $5.
Around that same time the price of the Playstation (the original one) dropped from $299 to $199. It suddenly seemed within reach. My parents weren’t going to buy it for me, which is completely fine and I wouldn’t change that if I could. As a result, I decided that with my newfound income I would save up for it. What a great lesson in delayed gratification that was.
Doing the math, I knew I had to wait at least 5 months to get the system which to a 14-year-old might as well be 5 years. Even then, I had to save more to afford tax, games and a memory card. This meant I really needed closer to $300.
During that time, I put my work in and grabbed that extra $5 whenever the opportunity presented itself. I heavily researched which game I was going to buy. I had something to look forward to. If I was going to spend any of that money I knew that for every $10 I spent it would set me back one week of work. I made very few purchases during that time but I did spend $30 on a gift for my Mom. That involved not only giving up the money but also 3 weeks of progress and I was keenly aware of that but that was OK. I was in control.
Well, after about 8 months, I finally got my Playstation. I was so excited driving (my Mom drove me) to Best Buy because I had pictured that day many times. The moment had finally arrived. It seemed surreal and I was so happy I had waited to get what I really wanted.
I was happy that I delayed gratification.
I could have bought a bunch of small things with that money during those 8 months. None of them would have meant to me what it meant then. It wasn’t just a video game system. It was a lesson in delayed gratification and a fun journey.
Following that I saved up for some other items but none were as gratifying as that purchase. As my income grew though I sacrificed less. Once credit cards and student loans entered the picture I could basically have what I wanted at any point in time. No need to wait if I can charge it and make the minimum payments.
It wasn’t until I was married and we decided that we were going to pay off our debt, build up an emergency fund, save for a down payment on our first house that I had that feeling again. Those were goals themselves but the main goal was to be able to live on one income so that my wife could stay at home with the kids. We had something to look forward to.
Delaying gratification isn’t just about doing without. It is complimented with an end goal and fulfilled through the journey. Don’t underestimate the journey. That journey is life. Through all the ups and downs there is so much gratification in the process of working towards something.
Find that end goal. Find multiple end goals and look for areas that you can cut to get you to those goals. Don’t settle for small goals. Reach far and push yourself.
You gain a tremendous amount more than just the end goal. You gain that experience from the process. Erin and I often say that we’re grateful we had so much debt because we learned how to be good with our money as a result. We wouldn’t be good at money today (not in the same way), had we not learned and grown through the journey.
By delaying gratification, the benefits are both financial and experiential. Financially, you’ll be set. Always pushing to save and invest your extra money will result in more than enough when you need it. That is a guarantee.
Experientially, you’ll have the growth and maturity that you gain along the way. Each time you give in and sell yourself short you lose out on the both the financial and experiential benefits.
Treat yourself and take the road less traveled. Find that end goal and hold on.
What do you look forward to? What are you giving up to get there?
We’re looking forward to paying off debt and saving enough money so we won’t be desperate in retirement. We have given up the normal things I reckon everyone gives up: cable, a big and fancy wardrobe, dining out more than twice per year, new books (God bless libraries, really!), and a toasty warm living room in the winter! But it has opened up a world of simple and enjoyable things. We don’t have to take clothes to the dry cleaners. We have come to LOVE our grandmothers’ quilts and afghans. And one of our favorite dates is a long walk on a country road.:-)
Yeah, it is funny how by giving up things can improve your life twofold. I think you’ll find that you’ll be more than OK in retirement by taking the approach you have because you find your content now which requires less resources to save for. Gotta love those long walks!