Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Simple Savings: Delay Gratification

Most of us are familiar with the marshmallow experiment many years ago.  They gave kids a choice to either have one marshmallow right away or they could have two marshmallows if they waited a little bit of time.  This experiment almost sounds like the same process people go through when they purchase something:  do I get it now on credit and pay interest or do I wait and save the money necessary to purchase the item and pay for it when the money is saved up?  You can use the same process with food:  do you snitch and eat a bite right away or wait and eat later at meal time.  By waiting, you can save money.  I will share a few examples:

1.  When we moved to our current home about 13 years ago, we decided to only pay cash for cars.  Our first car we paid cash for was a 1976 Subaru.  It had a mirror on only one side and played only AM radio just to give you an idea of how old it was.  The car took us where we needed to go just like any other car would. Sure, I envied the nice cars some of our friends drove, but I didn't envy the monthly payment and interest they had to pay each month for years to be able to drive the car.

2.  I have a bad habit of snacking.  My husband, on the other hand, just eats at meals.  I see nothing wrong with eating smaller meals and having a snack mid morning and mid afternoon.  In fact, I think it could be healthier in the long run.  But, if you aren't careful of how much you eat for snacks or how often you snack, you could be spending a lot of extra money on food that you don't need to.  It also isn't good for your health.

3.  Christmas and birthdays are another time that this can come into play.  Are you good about waiting to give gifts until the day of?  Do you open your gifts before Christmas or your birthday because you can't wait?

By teaching your children to delay gratification, you are teaching them something that will bless them the rest of their lives.  They need to learn the importance of waiting instead of indulging themselves whenever they want something.  In some follow up studies of the kids who were involved with the marshmallow study, they showed how the kids who waited got higher scores on the SAT and they also had less behavioral problems, etc.  Sometimes when you wait to purchase things, you realize that you really don't need it in the first place and that it would have been a waste of money.

Some things I have done to help myself learn to wait are as follows:

Plan snacks for the day/week ahead of time and stick to the list.  This way I can keep on top of how much I am eating and try not to over eat in the day.

Wrap Christmas presents ahead of time.  That way you are not tempted to open them before Christmas.

Make a goal to always pay in full before making purchases.  If you can't pay for it right away, don't buy it.

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