Instant gratification is something we all enjoy, whether we admit it or not. We tend to want what we want and we want it right now. This is how credit cards get us in trouble. I was always really good about not using credit cards and instead, just waiting to buy things until I had the money. I would carefully budget and patiently save. It meant no instant gratification. It meant not getting that little thrill when you order something you want immediately after seeing it. It meant delayed gratification, but gratification nonetheless… at some point. In fact, looking back on it now, that gratification feels better in the long run. Knowing that I worked for something, saved for something, and spent my own money on something is better than getting what I want right now but borrowing money to do it. That’s why delayed gratification is better in the long run, but maybe not in the moment.
For the most part, I’ve been good for most of my life about being responsible with my finances and not using credit cards. I’ve had a few bad phases though where I went overboard with my spending and bought way too much stuff on credit cards. A few years ago, I remember doing this with books. I just kept buying more and more on Amazon and getting that little thrill whenever they’d show up on my doorstep. I was living with an old boyfriend at the time and busy with school and work. I had been experiencing some depression and buying books made me feel good… for a moment, anyway. I racked up some debt with that one and when I got my student loan payout, I paid off the credit card and stopped the buying.
For the next several years, I was really good about not using my credit card again. Jerry and I saved up a lot of money to pay for our wedding, then our house, then our son. I had no credit card debt and felt really good about where our finances were. Then I had one of those massive spending phases again earlier this year when I got into clothes and fashion. I had an epiphany last fall about dressing my body in a way that made me feel good. I decided to stop buying cheap, crappy clothes and instead buy nice, flattering clothes. That feeling of empowerment was great! I’ve been dressing better and feeling better and I love that! However… the spending was NOT so great. I racked up debt yet again, buying whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I excused my behavior, telling myself that I was doing it to boost my self-esteem. And while that is true, I overdid it, bought too much, and now feel guilty when I look at all the debt I’ve amassed recently.
As you’ve seen with my Debt Diaries series, I have put a stop to that spending. I’m getting back into a positive mindset and working on getting our finances back in order again. I am no longer using credit cards, unless in an emergency, and most definitely not for things I don’t need more of like clothes and books. We’re going back to delayed gratification and saving up for what we want. Do I miss that little thrill I get when I order tons of stuff online? Yep. Do I miss that little thrill I get when my packages arrive in my mailbox? Yep. But those feelings are fleeting. You feel good in the moment, but that’s it: just for a moment. The instant gratification is a temporary happy feeling that is so incredibly fleeting. It’s not worth it to me in the long run.
Right now, I plan out what I want to buy and when I’d like to buy it. This is what I used to do before, and it worked out pretty well for us. We don’t just buy things on a whim anymore and instead, plan and budget for them. For instance, I know I need to purchase my 2018 planner soon. Would I like to hop online and buy it now? Sure I would. But I didn’t budget for it yet and I’m not going to put it on a credit card. Instead, I’ve budgeted for it in October, when I can pay it for with our OWN actual money, and not money from a lender. Each week, I lay out where our paycheck is going: what bills need to be paid, how much we will spend for gas and groceries, etc. After that, if there’s money left, we can then purchase one of the things we’ve been waiting to buy. Last month, I knew we wanted to buy new sheets. Did I just hop on Amazon and buy them right when the idea popped into my head? No, I didn’t! I waited until a week when we had some wiggle room in our budget, and I bought them then. Yep, it means we often have to wait for what we want, but that’s okay!
Right now, I’ve been getting into wax warming more than ever. I have nine wax warmers and have always loved them. They make our house smell so nice and cozy! I’ve recently discovered there’s a whole slew of vendors who make homemade wax in such awesome scent varieties and I’m excited to try out SO MANY vendors. I’ve been longingly making wishlists on their sites and perusing their Facebook groups. I feel left out and lame when people post their huge hauls and wish I had my own. The me of a few months ago would have whipped out the ol’ credit card and spent thousands by now, but not the new me. I’m back to the way I used to be where I patiently wait and save. This week, I’ve budgeted a bit of money to try a certain vendor and then I’ll have to leave it at that until we have some extra money again. And I’ll survive!
Yep, in the moment instant gratification is what feels really good and gives you a little thrill. In the long run though, delayed gratification is where it’s at. Because of delayed gratification and spending wisely, our finances look better and better by the week. Eventually, we will be debt free. What gratification in the world will be better than that?!