Instant Gratification is Depriving You of Money

Instant Gratification is Depriving You of Money

I’m a very impatient person. I hate waiting in lines. I hate traffic. I hate being on hold with customer service. I hate how long it takes to cook dinner. I hate having to wait an entire week between episodes of my shows. You get the point. But I realized something I need to have patience with: money. The thing is people want instant gratification and when it comes to money, that’s not really how it works.

Instant gratification is the desire to experience immediate pleasure or fulfillment from something.

How many times have you heard “I just want to win the lottery?” People are implying they don’t want to wait or put in effort any longer; they just want to be rich. The funny thing is that you have no chance of winning the lottery unless you play the lottery. And if you don’t win the lottery the first time you play, you have to continue to play until you win (IF you ever win, that is). So, playing the lottery isn’t even going to give you money instantly. Plus, if you play the lottery and lose, think of how much money you’re losing by playing and no satisfaction at all comes from that.

The constant need for instant gratification is depriving people of money.

Shopping

I do almost all of my shopping online now. While online shopping does save me time and is significantly more convenient, it also helps me save money. Do you ever go to a store and fall in love with something and feel like you can’t leave the store without it? It happens to me all the time, but with online shopping not so much. After I find an item I love, I type the item name into Google and see if any other stores have it for a better price or check if it is available at a store I have a gift card to, so I can apply it towards the purchase of that item. If I don’t find the item cheaper elsewhere or have a gift card, I add the item to my cart and wait until it goes on sale or wait to see if I can find a coupon. Does it take longer? It sure does, especially because I also then need to wait for the item to be shipped to me. But I feel double the excitement when I get it for a cheaper price AND when it finally arrives at my doorstep.

Another way instant gratification makes you spend more money is by settling for an item when there could be a better and/or cheaper one out there. Perfect example: my husband and I did some major renovations to our house last year after our wedding. We changed the colors of our living room, dining room and kitchen (this is all one big room in our house- think open concept). We bought new couches, light fixtures, backsplash and décor; however one thing we have not yet purchased is a new dining room table and chairs. It’s not because we don’t want a new table and chairs. We just haven’t been able to find the perfect one for a reasonable price. And so we wait (which drives my husband nuts, by the way). We have found some that we really like, but they’re not on sale, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Labor Day brings some sales because that’s when we bought our couch last year, which we got a good deal on!

Stocks

Don’t get me wrong, day traders can make TONS of money. But most people I know who anxiously trade stocks as soon as they move a little aren’t doing it for a living. They’re just trying to make a little money as quickly as possible. What these people don’t realize, though, is that their returns could be significantly larger if they simply just waited. Stock prices tend to be reactive. A stock may go down due to a specific current event, but then after a few weeks, months or sometimes even years, the stock bounces back and ends up significantly higher than what you bought it at. Additionally, it may make sense NOT to buy a stock immediately and wait to see how the stock price is impacted by something like an earnings report. Unfortunately, when it comes to the stock market you really can’t time it perfectly, but you can definitely save yourself or make yourself at least some money by deferring gratification.

Patience rewarded us greatly when it came to our first mutual bank investment, as well. If you’re unsure of what I’m referring to, check out my prior posts How to Use Mutual Banks to Increase Your Returns and An Update on My Mutual Conversion Investment. In summary, my husband and I have opened CDs at various mutual banks across the country in order to potentially be given the opportunity to participate in an IPO if/when these banks decide to go public in the future. The first mutual bank we got to experience this with provided us with a 62% return after just a couple months once our money was invested. We had the money in a CD for around 3 years before the bank made the choice to go public. That was actually a fairly quick turnaround time. We have deposits in approximately 20 other mutual banks with hopes that they will all one day do the same. Yes, there is a possibility that the day may never come for some of these. And for the ones that do decide to go public, we have no clue when that will be. So patience will be vital if we’d like to participate in these IPOs and give ourselves the chance to make that kind of return again.

Compound Interest

The entire concept of compound interest revolves around letting your money make money and then make more money on that money and make even more money on that money and it goes on and on and on indefinitely until you take that money out.

  • If you invest $100 at 5% per year for 1 year, you will have $105 after 1 year – 5% total return
  • If you invest $100 at 5% per year for 5 years, you will have $127.63 after 5 years – 27.63% total return
  • If you invest $100 at 5% per year for 10 years, you will have $162.89 after 10 years – 62.89% total return
  • If you invest $100 at 5% per year for 15 years, you will have $207.89 after 15 years – 107.89% total return
  • If you invest $100 at 5% per year for 20 years, you will have $265.33 after 20 years. – 165.33% total return

Obviously $100 is a small amount of money, but if you apply the total percent returns to $100,000 the numbers really become impressive. If you take your money out after just 5 years, you’d have $127,630. But if you wait 20 years to take your money out, you’d have $265,330. By waiting 15 years, you more than double your money. I’ll gladly trade the instant gratification for deferred gratification with those kinds of returns!

Jobs

People often switch jobs because they get frustrated that they aren’t making enough money. It’s never great to feel undervalued, at work or anywhere else for that matter, so I understand the thought process behind this. However, I know far too many people who have switched jobs for more money without staying at the first job for long enough to deserve a promotion. Not that all promotions require X amount of time before one deserves it, but a company needs to get a good feel for their employees before just promoting them because they did a good job on one or two projects in the time they have been there. A company needs to analyze their employees to see if they’re a good fit and what position(s) their specific skillset works best with. Companies want their employees to thrive as much as they want their business to thrive. This should be a two-way street, too.

Should you, as the employee, want to give a job time before thinking you deserve a promotion and raise? Maybe you’re frustrated with one aspect of your job, like a boss for example, so you want to leave. Then you hear shortly after you leave the company to move on to a new job that the boss who was causing your negative feelings about your job has now left or moved on to a new role. If you would have stayed and waited it out, you could have been had the exact job you left to try to find. I know this because I speak from experience. I absolutely love my current job and do not regret my decision at all, but it is funny to think back on how different things would be now if I had waited it out a little longer at my past job. I certainly would be making more money since I took a pay cut for the job I have now!

My advice: be patient and you will be rewarded. That shirt you really want will go on sale. You will find a cheaper alternative to that expensive table you found.  That stock you want to sell will go up. Your interest will compound. Work hard enough and you will receive a promotion/raise. Delayed gratification is so much better than settling for instant gratification, when you end up getting even better results by waiting. Because who doesn’t love having more money?

What’s one example of how you are saving or making money by deferring your gratification? Or on the other hand, I’d love to hear an example of how instant gratification made you (or someone you know) lose money!

8 thoughts on “Instant Gratification is Depriving You of Money

  1. This is something I constantly struggle with, because, just like you, I’m also super impatient. There is a list of restaurants I want to go to but won’t because they don’t take reservations (there’s a saving money tip in there somewhere right?)
    Online shopping has been big for me too, no more impulse buys at the store. The biggest thing has been making my finances as automatic as possible. Auto contributions to saving and auto investment purchases means I don’t have to think about it and ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really works for me.

    1. I completely agree, Sarah! I’m a big fan of automatic transfers myself and so funny you used that phrase because I said the same thing in my blog post this morning haha.

      By pushing back visiting the restaurants you definitely are saving money! I’m sure you end up cooking more or maybe going to a cheaper restaurant!

  2. I’ve been noticing a common theme these days: delayed gratification. I do like instant gratification, too, which is why I’ve been so unsuccessful at school work. I probably should have completed a Masters degree and some certifications. Instead, I’ve sought the path of least resistance. Oh wait…maybe this is about something else!

    I have been pretty consistent with investing in my 401K and military equivalent (TSP) when I was still serving. Although it’s not where I’d like it to be, it is getting up there and even a slight downturn results in thousands of dollars. This is the power of compound interest!

  3. There have been many times where I wanted something immediately but found out if I waited not only could I have gotten something better, but more fitting as well (example small TV next to my kitchen). I had the pre-wiring done, but it’s a bit too high on the wall and so is the TV. I wish I would have thought it through more and got it done on a more central and viewer-friendly location. But I’ll wait a little while before I decide to change it. And to get delayed gratification 🙂

    1. Yeah I’ve got plenty of stories about instant gratification that led to regret AND spending more than necessary. Specifically I used to do this with clothing ALL THE TIME. I’ve since made a big change. We are pretty good about applying the concept of delayed gratification to the house; however, I may be a little too slow to make decisions in that case lol

  4. The funny thing about instant gratification is that the satisfaction of the purchase wears off almost as quickly as the decision to make the purchase. I’ve found that l, in general, I’m far more satisfied with a buying decision when I’ve thought about it for a while and decided it was something I truly wanted or needed. I’m often able to talk myself out of purchases, which probably means it wouldn’t have taken long before I started regretting buying that thing.

    1. Yes! Such great points here. And I am the same exact way. I can talk myself out of purchases most times, but when I’ve wanted something for a long time and finally bite the bullet, I am happier way longer.

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