Delayed gratification refers to holding out on a purchase or an acquisition in expectation of a more opportune moment or time in which the item or service will offer more value for the expense or will be more convenient in its acquisition. (Say what?) OK here’s an example.
Let’s say you pass by a department store where you see a pair of shoes that you want to purchase. However, your friend who works at this same store has informed you that in a week most shoes will go on sale. Thus you choose to wait until next week to purchase the shoes in expectation of this sale. You have successfully delayed the gratification of purchasing the shoes because in one week they will be cheaper. The reasons for the delaying vary but the principle is the same. The principle being not purchase now, instead purchase later.
(Now how does this save you money?)
1. Prevents impulse buying (especially big ticket items)
We see this happen all the time. You’re in the grocery checkout line, ready to check out when suddenly, there in front of you, is the most amazing display of sneakers bars and you (for whatever reason) just have to have one! Many vendors depend on your impulsive buying behavior. Don’t let them win! In the case of groceries, if it’s not on your groceries list (to be explained in another blog) delay on it. More often than not, you will find that as soon as you get out of that isle, you will have forgotten that desire for the sneakers bar (or anything else that tries to seduce your wallet). A good rule of thumb for any unplanned purchase is to sleep on it one to two days. By that time you will have surely forgotten about that sneaker bar! Ok maybe two days is a bit excessive for candy bar, but when you are considering a big purchase such as a TV or a Car, definitely consider sleeping on this decision. In fact, consider just taking a sabbatical (joking, but seriously, sleep on it) Afterwards consider the purchase and how it fits with your budget.
2. It helps you to separate emotional buying from rational buying
We are all emotional beings. Unfortunately, our emotions can play a huge factor on our behavior and our senses. That’s why it’s dangerous to drive while you’re angry or sad. Emotions
play a huge role in our shopping behavior as well. Studies show that people who experience a positive emotional high are likely to purchase more. Meaning, don’t shop/ purchase anything while you are emotionally high. If you are tempted to buy something while emotionally excited, choose to delay that and find other means to cope with the emotion. This is difficult to do I know, but you will be grateful later that you did not buy $75.00 shirt because you were so happy at something positive in your day, and did not realize you actually did not have $75.00 in the bank and avoid that “what do you know, this $75.00 has now cost you $ $105.00 or more (depending on your banks, overdraft fee policy)” moment. Especially since the shirt was going on sale next week! The irony here? Don’t shop when you’re happy…too happy that is.
3. It helps you avoid scams
You heard it said, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is”? Well that’s a very accurate statement. In the game of economy, the goal of the game is to make a profit and for that to happen, it means that someone else will probably not make a profit. With that said, it does not mean that you still can’t get a good deal while at the same time creating a profit for the vendor. But be weary, some vendors want to make their profit as extensive as possible at your expense. One of the ways to catch these vendors is through delayed gratification. Don’t purchase something because the vendor says you should. Take a break from the sale pitch and think about it in your own terms. (I.e. delay your gratification)
In a nutshell. Delayed gratification is a good habit to get into.