Have you ever made an impulse purchase? If you’ve ever bought a magazine or candy while waiting in line at the grocery store, you’ve made an impulse purchase. Now imagine what you could do if you saved that $5 every time you wanted to buy that magazine. If you saved $5 every week for 52 weeks, you’d have $280 and could put that money toward a larger purchase. That’s called delayed gratification.
You’re delaying the feeling you get when you make a purchase. Delayed gratification is resisting the temptation to buy an item in favor of making a larger (and probably more meaningful) purchase later.
Most of us aren’t very good at waiting to make purchases which is why I am sharing three tricks to practice delayed gratification:
- Gift Card for Yourself. As a financial coach, I want your budget to be your own. I want you to have iTunes, lattes, books and other items that you want BUT I want you to be conscious of your purchase. I recommend getting gift cards for items like coffee in an amount that fits your budget. Purchase a gift card at the beginning of the month. Only replenish the card at the beginning of the next month and don’t spend more than what is on the card. You will value the purchase more because you’ve waited to get it.
- Wait the Weekend. All too often clients visit me after a weekend of making a big purchase like a new tv or car. It’s not that I don’t want them to make big purchases, but it has to be in the budget. I recommend waiting until after the weekend to assess if you really need what you were going to buy. When you go back to work on Monday, you will be reminded of how hard you work for your money and you may choose not to spend it on that item.
- Keep a List. Make a list of your three biggest wants and keep it in your wallet. These are (somewhat) short-term purchases. When you have the urge to make an impulse buy, take out the list. If the item you want to purchase in the moment isn’t on the list, you can’t buy it. The list reminds you of what really matters and I doubt a celebrity magazine is on your list. (And if it is, who am I to judge!)
Using these tips you will begin to understand more about how you feel when you make purchases, both the big and the small ones. Your mindset will shift from being in the moment to looking longer term for what you really want.