Delay Gratification To Succeed

By glblguy


In today’s busy and hurried society, we want everything now. Think about some of the “instant” things we have in life.

On-demand TV programming. 30-minute 30-second meals. Instant messengers. Drive-thru options for just about any store (because who wants to get out of their car for anything?!). The list goes on and on.

We want what we want, and we want it now.

Welcome to America.

But if we were to go through each of our closets, dig under our beds, or browse around our attics, we would find plenty of items that would fall into the category: “I just had to have it.”

Except that you didn’t. You used it or wore it once or twice, and it has collected dust ever since then.

Delaying gratification isn’t just a money principle, but it’s a life principle. Think about it. Which tastes better? Something cooked in the microwave or the crock-pot? Hopefully you said the crock-pot as you pull your frozen pizza from the microwave!

But how do you get a teenager to understand this?

  • Lead By Example – Teenagers watch to see if you’re living out what you’re telling them to do. If you always have to have the latest and greatest and never delay gratification, don’t expect your child to do it either. Here’s a good question…are you smoking what you’re selling? (Can he say that!?)
  • Just Say No – When your teen comes to you asking for $50 for that new outfit, an advance on their allowance for the new iPod, or wondering if they can sell their younger sister on Craigslist for some extra cash, just say NO! I’m sure they’ll kick and scream and foam at the mouth, but they will also begin to realize having that new item isn’t that important.
  • Implement A Waiting Period – You may have heard this before, but anytime you’re making a significant purchase, give yourself a few days to think it through and prevent yourself from buying on impulse. When you leave the store and wait a few days, it will cause you to think clearer and use better judgment. Teach your teen to wait for it.

12 Things Every Teenager Needs To Know About Money (And How To Teach Them) is a community blog experience.  This post is only one of the 12 points in the series so to view the other 11, please visit the list of links below. Here are the rest of the articles in the “12 Things Every Teenager Needs To Know About Money (And How To Teach Them)” series:

This is a guest post from Grant Baldwin, the author of Reality Check, a book about helping students transition into the real world. His new website,, answers questions from teenagers about personal finance, savings, and all things money.

Photo credit: TheTruthAbout…

16 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Delay Gratification To Succeed”

  1. Miranda Says:

    Part of our problem right now is the idea that we *need* and *deserve* to have “it” (whatever “it” is) now. I like the idea of saying no, and teaching our children the value of waiting to get things.

  2. FFB Says:

    This is a tough habit to break for many in this country. Marketing is so powerful in making us want things we don’t particularly need. But waiting until you can afford something and making sure it’s something you will use is especially important. Today’s economy is an example of what happens when we all jump on the “want” wagon without thinking it out.

  3. MK Says:

    I completely agree with the idea of a waiting period. I even do it with small purchases. If I am in a store for one thing, but find something else that i “need” (read want) I’ll put it down, and continue on, if I’m still thinking of that small purchase as i’m heading to the checkout, sometimes i’ll go back and get it, but most time i’ll either forget i “needed” it, or not want to walk all the way back to the other side of the store to get it.

    I’m sure this one tip has saved me plenty of money!

  4. Luke Says:

    Great post, Grant! I write a lot about instant gratification in the real estate market, and its long-term effects on a family’s budget for decades to come.

    Think how much better off most of us would be had we stayed put in our starter homes. But, at the time we needed something bigger, something newer, etc. So we mortgaged 30 years of future earnings to upgrade because we simply could not wait to put down more money, or save up to buy the home with cash.

  5. Dana Says:

    Delaying gratification is something that just doesn’t come naturally to most Americans. The lack of control we have with over ourselves is one of the roots of the problem.

  6. Grant @ Says:

    Thanks for your involvement in this series Glbl!

  7. MoneyEnergy Says:

    The point about leading by example is extremely important, I would agree! Children will imitate/grow into/follow after so much of their parents in many ways, so you need to be very conscious of it. Besides, it seems the right thing to do anyway. Practice what you preach.

  8. DDFD at Says:

    Great post! Instant gratification is expensive! We can all learn from this one.

  9. Sue Says:

    How about this one?? Lets teach our children (in this case it will be my grandchildren) that the toy they received in their “happy meal” can be enjoyed only after they eat. A small lesson in “patience” and to delay gratification.

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