Delayed Gratification: Slow Ride to the Top

Buy now! Limited time offer only! You need to be the first on the block to own this or you’ll die!

I feel like we live in a world where pressure is placed upon consumers to obtain items immediately, irregardless of thought, plan, budgeting or actual need. Advertising drives our mind to believe the latest cell phone, the newest car, the biggest amount of anything that we can get should be ours if we want it whenever we want it. Whip out that card and take 15 years to fully pay it off if you have the credit limit available. Yet what are we teaching future generations about delayed gratification?

My children are under the misinterpretation that when they get their driver’s licenses, they’ll instantly get our current cars to drive as theirs. We’ve found through the years that if they have to pay for an expensive item, they treat it a little bit better than if we pay for it ourselves. My oldest has lost (0r let other friends borrow) various music devices and even a cell phone to less than thrilling results for her and for us. The next time we had her work for a month between various chores and babysitting savings to buy another Ipod for herself- and this time we’ve seen better results as far as the care and concern for the item.

My parents had me set aside at least 50% of my paycheck to put in a savings account while I was growing up. I even remember learning about banking through a small school program that started in elementary school. Granted we were talking a few dollars here and there, but I understood better as a child the art of saving to get the really big ticket items you want as you get older. By my senior year of high school, I was able to buy my first used car in cash and cover the insurance- a great investment that gave me transportation to and from college as well as help with my weekend deejay shows for the next 4 years.

I think as a result of planning out purchases, my money habits were considered very tight-wadish. I never spent extra money on luxuries. I let my bank account rise in the thousands, because as long as my basic needs were covered, why did I have to buy the latest and greatest anything? Teaching my children these habits has been tough. They came from nothing in their past, so at first going out shopping they felt like we would instantly buy whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

What’s wrong with a slow ride to the top? Where in your life can you look at cuts where you can throw other money into a side business, investments, real estate, savings accounts, IRA’s, etc.? Do you need the biggest cable television package? Can you get buy on a smaller cell phone minute plan? What if you made more meals at home and brown bagged  it rather than eating out 7-10 times a week?

I think it’s perfectly ok to keep a journal of your purchases over the next couple of weeks, and then see where you really want your money to go. The only way you can attempt a solution is to have an assessment of where your spending habits are, then look at your definite needs versus wants you can adjust accordingly. I love books for instance- but a library card works just as well to feed my reading need than having to go to the local book store or on amazon.com to spend the money. I balance books that I really enjoy by looking for deals on them so I can put my money in other areas I desire during the year (bowling, music, holidays).

I’d love to hear some of your best budget makeovers you’ve done and what are some of your big ticket purchases you plan on making with delayed gratification.

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