The Power of Delayed Gratification

I have made a lot of dumb money decisions in the past. I must confess, I’m not a fan of delayed gratification. I used to make decisions on impulse especially in buying nice things because I fell for the I-deserve-it syndrome. 

I convinced myself that wanting more stuff is OK as some of the things I acquired were on sale anyway. I falsely believed it without realising I dug myself into a hole. I worked my way out only to fall into another hole. Our credit card debts were proof of those careless spendings without a plan. We are never going back that route ever again.

There were instances where I would have spent cash but it was never in my budget. I was robbing our future for the instant gratification of a “deal.” When we cleaned our wardrobe and storage area, I can not tell you how many of these little items that I bought with clearance stickers that I have since packaged up and donated! Things I didn’t even remember buying, never have worn, or I thought I would given as gifts or I “needed.” Now I ask myself, does it have a place or a purpose? I can’t just bring stuff into our house for stuff. 

I felt so trapped then and I was thinking I was the ONLY one who has ever done this but realised there were more people worse off than me; I am not alone and there is hope. 

The good news is we were able to change the way we think, became more aware of our finances, and are now on top of it. It took a lot of work and behavioural transition that allowed us to stop feeling this way and it has also given our family a clear direction for the first time.

Celebrating the small wins

Please allow me to share a little win that my family has celebrated just recently.

We have been wanting to buy a new fridge since 2019. We knew what we want; we even have a specific brand and model in our heads. We also planned of downsizing our lounge set.

We were supposed to buy them in the first quarter of 2019 but our 6-year old Philips TV broke out of the blue. We had no TV for two weeks as we were on a short holiday for Little Budget Tipster’s birthday. After coming back, we had to look around for a new TV so the plans of getting a new fridge and a new lounge were no longer a priority. 

When lockdown was in full force, I had a real good grip of our finances after several futile attempts in the past years. I had no choice as it was uncertain times and I just had to make sure our family is financially prepared for the unknown. My wish of owning a new fridge still keeps popping up in my head. It is still in good working condition so we pulled back every so often and just settled for what we have. Our lounge set is still OK; it’s bulky but we can also make do with it.

It must be noted though that we hardly budget for any appliances in the house which had now changed the course. There are 2 reasons why getting a new fridge is a priority among other things:

  1. It is an old fridge which was the first we owned as a couple even before Little Budget Tipster was born. During lockdown, we realised it was too small and we were delimited to stocking up the basic essentials- food and groceries. We do our grocery run on a weekly basis. 
  2. No matter how much I clean and organise it, it still looks so cluttered and things are just all over the place because of the very limited storage. 

Simply put, it is primarily for our family’s convenience and comfort. 

Buying stuff all for cash

So we planned to get a new one but there is no other way to buy it but in the form of cash. We have the opportunity to buy it at anytime— just swipe using our credit cards or just simply use our emergency fund. But nah! It was not an urgent scenario. We still have a working fridge and we can get by; we held it off and patiently waited until we have more than enough cash in our hands. 

In August, I intentionally created an appliance and furniture fund for this purpose. The fridge will be our priority and if there’s some extra money left, then we will get a smaller lounge. Fortunately, we had bigger income for the month because of our joint tax refunds. We intentionally directed our money for this purpose. 

We felt the excitement. We finally have the money for the purchase! We will be buying it for cash without having to touch our emergency fund!

The minute I measured the available space we have for the new fridge prior to the purchase, I knew that we couldn’t buy the model of our choice even when we have the funds for it. Our space was a tad smaller; it’s short of 10-15 cms. It’s kind of disappointing. 

Mr. Budget Tipster posed two options: 

  1. Get on with the purchase and settle for what’s available according to what fits our space.  
  2. Stall the purchase until we move to a bigger place which might happen in 3-5 years.

He proposed these options but ultimately forgotten #2 when he saw one fridge model we both liked. It was a rather smooth transaction. We bought the fridge without further delay; we got it for a really good price. 

The fridge was delivered a day after the purchase and only then have we realised what we have been missing out for so long when we finally have a very sleek- looking, spacious fridge! 

Mr. Budget Tipster was quoted as saying: “See how little things can make us so happy?!” 

The excitement did not end there. We also went to look for a new lounge. I initially thought we will have a hard time looking for one that we specifically like.

But again, luck was on our side. Instead of opting for a customised set where we will have to wait 3 months before it can be delivered, we got one stock on the floor which we truly loved. It is also within our budget. It is yet to be delivered this Wednesday.

Discipline and patience

It is indeed true that the longer we wait for  something, the more we appreciate it when we finally get it. 

Throughout this journey, it is a no-brainer that we have learned discipline and patience. Our marriage is stronger than it’s ever been; we have learned that instant gratification isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be.

We learned that I’m the nerd and Mr. Budget Tipster is the free-spirit. Actually, he isn’t a total free spirit but more so than me! 

It is true that Cash is King and it is an amazing feeling to just pull out cash to pay for the things without any worries that normally would stress me out to miserable proportions.

This journey is so much more than telling where your money to go. It makes you a responsible adult and gives you the feeling of worth and accomplishment.

Mr. Budget Tipster and I have both grown through this way of life. Taking this path is the best decision we have ever made thus far. 

To those who are just starting out, there will be sacrifices, days of wanting to throw in the towel, possibly there will be tears, too. 

But hang in there!

The feeling of accomplishment in the delayed gratification is empowering! It is all worth it! 

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