How many times have you seen something in a store or online and just had to have it at that moment or you would just die?
Been there, done that and I still fight with that demon occasionally. I remember when the gorgeous iPhone first hit the market.
I thought spending over $1,000 on a phone was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard and chose to keep my money in my pockets in favor of more sensibly priced phones.
However, I started thinking differently when the iPhone 5c came out. You see blue is my favorite color. And not just any shade of blue but that specific shade of blue.
I started mentally negotiating with myself about where I could manifest the money for the phone from because I just had to have it. By any means necessary.
I soon talked myself down from that ledge and decided to save for it instead. I laid out a strategy and waited. It was hard walking around seeing everyone stunting with my favorite color phone except me.
When I eventually saved up enough for the phone, I realized I didn’t actually want it as much as I thought I did and figured I had better things to do with my money. This is the power of delayed gratification.
If you want to reach your personal and financial goals, it’s imperative to strike a balance between wants and needs in your life.
Wants vs Needs
It’s really not that hard to distinguish between a want and a need. A want is something you can live without and a need is something you can’t live without.
However, it’s so easy to mix up wants and needs especially when you’re staring at something that feels like it will make a real difference to your ability to continue existing on this planet.
What Are Some Examples of Wants & Needs?
A need is oxygen, clothes (unless you enjoy walking around butt naked), water, food, shelter. You cannot live without these things.
If you are deprived of any of these things for minutes to a longer period of time, it can result in your demise.
A want is the new Gucci bag, the latest model of your favorite car, buying a bigger house to show those Joneses they have nothing on you.
We currently live in a world where so many people want everything now without really thinking of the long-term effect on their finances, more so when these things are materialistic stuff that loses value over time and adds nothing to a financial portfolio.
Does this mean you should never ever buy yourself something nice as a treat or reward? Not at all but there are some things to take into consideration before you misidentify a want as a need. Before you buy anything, ask yourself the following questions:-
Delayed Gratification Mindset
Do I Really Need This?
Don’t impulse grab or order everything you want as soon as you see it. Really stop and think about if you need it. Sure, those shoes are nice but do you already have 50 shoes at home you hardly wear?
Can I Afford This? Is There a Budget for This?
Ok, you’ve decided you need 51 pairs of shoes. Great. Do you have a budget to buy the new pair? Do you have any blow money left in your budget or you’re just going to put it on your credit card and deal with it when the monthly bill arrives.
Could you perhaps consider unloading some of those 50 shoes on sites like eBay and Amazon, and using the proceeds to buy the new pair instead?
Do I Already Have Something Similar Which Doesn’t Need a Replacement?
Why do you want to buy this item? Is it because you don’t have one and it’s on your list to buy anyway or because it looks pretty and everyone is buying one?
When you ask yourself these questions, you elevate yourself into a delayed gratification mindset.
Why Delayed Gratification Rocks?
- Delayed gratification gives you a feeling of control over your finances.
- Delayed gratification increases your savings.
- Delayed gratification teaches you the fine art of patience and reflection.
- Delayed gratification teaches you how to manage your money and follow your financial goals for the week/month/year.
Delayed Gratification Exercise
Another way to control your impulse to buy something on the spot is this simple exercise. Create a spreadsheet with a wants section.
After creating a sense of delayed gratification within you whenever you want to buy something that isn’t a need, note down the cost of this item in the delayed gratification spreadsheet.
At the end of every month, tally up the amount. Seeing the figure you would have spent on something that isn’t really necessary can have a sobering effect and reinforce your determination to manage your finances more effectively.
Back to my blue iPhone 5C at the beginning of this article, I eventually did buy that phone but I waited until the iPhone 6 came out and was able to purchase it for less than half the original cost.
I still have the phone to this day and feel no need to upgrade to the latest iPhone. Every time someone asks me why I still have this “archaic” model, I tell them it makes and receives calls and WhatsApp works on it, which is pretty much all I’m looking for in a phone.
Have you ever fought the want vs need demon? Do you try something else other than the recommendations above to resist buying stuff you don’t need? Share in the comments section.
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