When’s the last time you actually heavily considered making a purchase or not? Today, Erin M. looks at the idea of “delayed gratification” and four simple ways that you can achieve it.
We live in a culture that has taught us instant gratification is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay – it’s how most people function. Need a snack? Go to a nearby vending machine or convenience store. Need a new car? Go down to the dealership and drive away in a newly leased vehicle the same day. Need money quickly? Get a payday loan.
This can have a disastrous effect on our financial situation. If we’re programmed to spend, spend, spend, how can we fight against this culture of instant gratification and move toward delayed gratification for the sake of our wallets?
If you’re wondering why delayed gratification is a good idea, consider this: you’ll be saving all the money you otherwise would have spent on trivial things. If you’ve been a victim of buyer’s remorse lately, then delayed gratification could be your solution.
Delayed gratification also leads to more mindful spending because it forces you to evaluate whether or not you really want (or need) something.
Think you want to embrace delayed gratification? Give these 3 methods a try!
1. Set a Spending Limit
Before you can embrace delayed gratification, it’s a good idea to set some boundaries regarding your spending.
While your ultimate goal should be to avoid all impulse purchases, if you give in to instant gratification a lot, you can start with a spending limit and work your way down.
Everyone’s number is going to look different, but figure out an amount you think is appropriate for you to second-guess the purchase you’re contemplating. Maybe that’s anything above £40 for you.
That means if you’re eyeing a new pair of shoes for £50, you should stop and use one of the below strategies to help you embrace delayed gratification.
2. Sleep on It
Sleeping on a decision is one of the easiest ways to delay your spending and help you “forget” about your wants. It also gives you a self-imposed time limit to figure out if the purchase is worth it.
Going back to that shoe example, you might find that because you were out shopping, you were naturally in the mood to spend. After having removed yourself from that situation, and after spending a day thinking about it, you might realize you don’t actually want those shoes after all.
Delayed gratification is all about taking a moment to step away from the temptation to buy and reflect in a rational way instead.
At Moneystepper, we actually take things one step further. In fact, 30 sleeps further. Read more about how to master the “30-day rule”:
3. List Out the Pros and Cons
Sometimes waiting it out isn’t enough to deter you from a purchase, but you’re still on the fence. Making a list of the pros and cons of a purchase can help you decide whether or not you should spend your money.
Let’s say you really want a new phone, but the one you currently have is still functioning just fine. Rationally, you know that you don’t need a new phone, but all the hype surrounding its release is hard to ignore.
Make a list. What are the pros to getting a new phone? Does it have better options available? Is it faster? Will you be more productive with it?
What are the cons? The cost? Possibly renewing your contract with your provider (thus making it harder to get out of down the road)? Having to get used to a new operating system?
After jotting down the pros and cons, you should have a better idea of what to do with your money.
4. Keep Your Savings Goals In Mind
Another strategy for delayed gratification is keeping your savings goals in mind, especially those of you who are currently in the Moneystepper 2015 Savings Challenge!
This method works extremely well to combat smaller impulse purchases as well as lofty purchases that will make a bigger dent in your bank account. If you haven’t already defined what your savings goals are, then do so now. What are you saving your money for? Retirement, investments, a vacation, paying off debt?
Now when you’re faced with the temptation to spend, ask yourself: “Is it worth giving up X amount of money toward my goal of saving for ____?” “Which do I want more, a new pair of shoes, or a vacation to Italy?”
Hopefully this will help put your potential purchases in perspective.
What If You Really Do Want Something?
Maybe you’ve put all the above methods to use, but find that you still actually want to buy something. That’s fine, but there’s no reason to go out and buy it immediately if you can’t afford it.
Don’t fall into the trap of paying for things with credit if you don’t have the funds available. You’ll end up paying more because of interest.
Instead, do the smart thing and save up for purchases. You should actually always be saving – this way, when you find something you want to buy, you can buy it right when you make the decision instead of having to wait.
For example, if you know you love to travel, then have a dedicated travel savings account that you’re putting money into on a monthly basis. When you come across a deal and decide that it’s worth buying, you’ll be able to!
Do you practice delayed gratification? How has it helped you save money? Has it helped you in any other way?
Erin M. is a staff writer at EverythingFinanceBlog.com, a blog dedicated to every topic related to personal finance. They talk about investing, saving, budgeting, and more. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.