The Marshmallow Experiment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo4WF3cSd9Q)is a powerful example of instant gratification. The experiment presents 1 marshmallow in front of different kids and gives them the option to: 1) eat the marshmallow now, or 2) wait for a while and get 1 more marshmallow on top of the marshmallow presented to them. You see in the video that while some kids say they will wait, they eat the marshmallow right away.
This is common not only for kids, but also for adults. Most people choose instant gratification. The world encourages us to embrace consumerism and adopt an I-WANT-IT-NOW attitude. Media and advertising bombard us with messages that encourage us to buy products now without assessing if it is a want or a need.
As a Financial Literacy Advocate, I teach people to practice delayed gratification. There are important reasons to waiting and choosing delayed gratification:
- It saves you from bad debt. Most people choose to buy things now and use their credit cards without realizing that added credit card purchases can lead to debt. Debt is not a bad thing per say, but not knowing how to use it can lead to a lot of trouble and heart ache. David Bach in his book “Start Late, Finish Rich” said that the credit card should be called a liability card. It’s a liability since it often causes people to buy things that they don’t need and accumulate more and more debt. Instead of choosing instant gratification with your credit card, it would be better to save your money and make it grow.
- It forces you to buy only what you can afford. If you can’t pay for an item in cash, then you can’t afford it. Sometimes, paying in cash can also help you negotiate for better prices (in the case of bazaars and tiangges). Some people believe that saving for an item takes forever. And when they already have enough money for it, it becomes laos or obsolete (as in the case of cellular phones). This may be true, but choosing delayed gratification and buying with cash leads you to prioritize what you need and saves you from credit card debt.
- It helps you avoid impulse buying. Impulse buying is a spur of the moment, unplanned decision to buy an item. While it is fun, impulse buying can drain your money. You can practice delayed gratification by assessing if the item you want is important and ultimately choosing not to buy it if it isn’t. This helps you control your income and save your money for more important things.
You can never go wrong with delayed gratification. Choosing to save and invest money instead of spending it on unimportant items ultimately leads to financial freedom. A study shows that 63% of this generation’s 25-year-olds will be broke by the age of 60. This is of course if they don’t save and invest money wisely. You can choose what your future will be. Do you choose instant gratification and an unstable future? Or, delayed gratification and a bright future? You decide.
You may reach me to learn about Financial Planning.
Archie M. Yuki
Licensed Financial Planner
The Insular Life Assurance Ltd., Co.