Delayed Gratification Is The Key To Financial Success

Key To Financial SuccessHave you seen the way people have been acting the last few years?

They see something they want and they have to have it immediately.

Whether it is an iPad or a Starbucks latte, people have no sense of self control when it comes to their money.

They whip out their credit card, take the item home and then figure out how to pay for it later.

This type of mindset about money will lead you to financial ruin in no time flat.

Of course, these are all generalizations. There are people out there that make savings goals for big purchases and budget for impulse purchases.

I’m one of them and I’m sad to say that it is very clear that I’m in the minority in this country.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be the change. You can be financially responsible, unlike the majority of the United States!

Are You Like Most Americans?

If your behavior is like the majority of Americans today, that’s perfectly fine because it is likely that no one taught you anything different. Today that changes.

Consumer debt is not okay. Impulsive purchases are not okay if you haven’t set aside money for those purchases. Consumer debt (credit card debt, car loans, personal loans, etc) is the result of not having enough money to pay for whatever you’ve purchased.

Consumer debt is using dollars you will earn in the future to pay for current expenses.

Consumer Debt Is Not An Option

Consumer debt wouldn’t be a problem, except the companies that loan you the money charge you interest. In some cases, you can pay 30% or more a year in interest because you don’t have the money to pay for your expenses today.

Most people think nothing of it, because they think everyone else has consumer debt just like they do. News flash, not everyone has consumer debt and you don’t have to either.

You can pay off your consumer debt and never pay a dime in interest on consumer debt again. Living without consumer debt isn’t an easy path, but it is totally worth it.

Trust me.

The Key To No Consumer Debt – Delayed Gratification

The key difference between people with consumer debt and those without, everything else being equal, is that the person with no consumer debt has mastered delayed gratification while the person with consumer debt has not.

What is delayed gratification? The ability to wait 15 minutes to get two marshmallows instead of one marshmallow is delayed gratification.

The ability to wait to buy something after you’ve saved for the item, rather than impulsively purchasing something as soon as you realize you want it, is delayed gratification.

The ability to invest money today to have money when you retire is delayed gratification. The real question is, how do you learn delayed gratification?

Learning Delayed Gratification Isn’t Easy

Delayed gratification is a very difficult concept to learn and even I have issues practicing it at times, but it is well worth learning. A few tips that you can use to help you learn the practice as it relates to your money include:

  • Write a list of goals you have for your money and put them somewhere you’ll see them daily. Better yet, announce your goals to someone close to you that can help to keep you accountable.
  • Ask yourself before every purchase “Is this a want or is this a need?” If it is a want, put the item back and wait at least 24 hours before purchasing it. Increase the time period for larger dollar purchases.
  • Talk to someone two decades older than you and ask them what they wish they had done differently with their money when they were your age. Chances are, they’ll share things you never even thought about.

Every person is different, so you need to find what works for you.

Whether it is thinking about the future of your kids or your future self in retirement, if you don’t delay gratification and learn to stay out of consumer debt and actually save or invest for your future, you’re harming your future self and future family.

Don’t be that person. Don’t hurt yourself and those around you. Get out of debt, save and invest for your future.

Do you believe delayed gratification is the key to financial success? Explain your stance in the comments section below!

Image credit: carianoff

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Totally agree! Prioritizing wants over needs will lead to financial success. It has help us pay off $86K of $109k of our debt.

  2. Jack @ SeeJackSave says:

    Bang on! Consumer debt is absolutely the enemy. Debt can be a powerful tool for building wealth, but only if you use it to purchase something productive. Using debt to by a car, toys, vacations, etc is essentially binding you to a life of wage slavery. As a reforming consumerist I’ve been in that trap. My current car was the last i’ll ever by with debt. I put away money every payday to replace it (with a used car) and Jane and I put a small amount from every paycheck for travel. Hard to begin with but amazingly empowering in the long run.

  3. I use an “”I’d Rather” approach to things. If I’m contemplating purchasing a new purse, I think about if there is something I’d rather have more. Maybe a new pair of earrings or put the money toward our vacation fund. Last year I received a $300 (!) gift card and it took me months to spend it because I just couldn’t find anything I really wanted. While I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather have, it couldn’t be used anywhere but a certain store so no opportunity to put it toward vacation, books etc. But I certainly delayed gratification for months with that one.

  4. I try to walk away from a purchase and then allow it to sink in before making it. This helps me weed out purchases that don’t need to be made.

  5. Delayed Gratification hits the nail on the head. This is a great article because it identifies the emotional issue behind so many peoples poor money decisions. That one behavior can have such an impact.

  6. Totally true! Impulse buys get people in soooo much trouble. If you just take some time to walk away and think about it then you realize that generally you can find a better deal or don’t even NEED what you wanted to buy in the first place.

  7. Yes, consumer debt is not okay, and neither is any kind of debt. I understand why people are in debt, but they should try their best to get out of it. Debt is like a trap, and if you are in it, there is no way out if you don’t strive to achieve. Thanks for the article and inspirational insight.

  8. I just saw this car dealership commercial today. Their motto was “I wanted it! I got it!” It’s crazy how people abuse credit!

  9. It’s like we have read each others minds, i have just been writing about consumerism myself. I’m ashamed to say i got caught up in it. I never had any debt, but I literally scraped through every month payday to payday before I set out my goals and how I was going to achieve them. I think the bit you touched on about asking someone two decades older is fantastic advice, they are from a time where people were far more frugal with their money, they will most certainly have ideas to cut back, save and invest we could never have imagined. Great read!

  10. The epidemic of “house fever” needs to stop as well. It’s a statistical fact that if you buy a house with a payment that’s out of your reach, you will suffer a job loss, be maimed by a rabid squirrel, or be struck by a meteor.

    Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating, but the idea of having some huge payment hanging over my head each month that I can barely afford sounds incredibly stressful. That’s why I rent right now.

    • Definitely sounds stressful. There are many cases where you can own for much cheaper than renting, but you have to do it right to make it work. Put 20% down, have a stable income and plan to live in the home for a long time.


  1. […] Delayed Gratification is the Key to Financial Success – Money Manifesto […]

  2. […] Looking for the key to financial success – Lance at Money Manifesto says it’s delayed gratification  […]

  3. […] Delayed Gratification Is The Key To Financial Success Lance at explains how the key to spending less is having enough control to not buy everything you want right away. For all the tips I have for saving money on all the types of transactions you spend money on, none will save you more money than simply not buying stuff you don’t need. […]

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