In the blog post Our Plan to fund Kid’s College Education, we shared how we were able to start the SIP for our Kid’s College three months before his birth by practising delayed gratification. Delayed Gratification is an action where you resist the temptation of immediate reward for future reward. We believe that Delayed Gratification is one of the foundational principles of Financial Independence and Early Retirement. Since savings for the future only comes from money not spent on non-essentials today.
In our case, Naren is naturally good at delayed gratification but not me and it reflects in the simplest ways. For eg: I first eat what I like the most on my dinner plate whereas Naren would save his favourite for the last 🙂
This small habit is harmless, right? But what if this same impulse also makes you spend your money to buy things that you don’t really need or to take debt instead of saving-up to buy things.
BUT WHY BOTHER WITH DELAYED GRATIFICATION?
“Working is not instantly rewarding. It’s a long process, and it’s much easier to just feed whatever dopamine cycles exist in your brain in instant gratification ways. I get it; I do.” Greta Gerwig
Benefits of Delayed Gratification
1. Delayed Gratification is a Rational Thing to Do
Why would anyone not want to wait to get a bigger reward in future vs. lesser reward in the present?
Meh…because we are not rational beings 🙂 The human mind is wired to get things now. This psychology is based on the pleasure principle. But if you decide to live a more rational life, you can start with practising Delayed Gratification.
2. Delayed Gratification Helps You Achieve Big Goals in Life
Like how Rome was not built in a day, there is no such thing as overnight success. Big Goals take time and consistent effort over a period of time. One has to practise patience, self-control and numerous small trade-offs to achieve success be it at work, health or a personal goal of achieving Financial Independence. Delayed Gratification is the practice of choosing future goals over and over against any instant pleasure.
3. Instant Gratification promotes Procrastination
Procrastination is the most common reason for most of us not reaching personal and financial goals in life. And the habit of Instant Gratification is one to blame because it creates a instant reward and feedback loop.Since our mind in its natural state prefers to do things which get instantly rewarded, we end up procrastinating things that take effort.
You can Watch a fun Video by Tim Urban or read his blog. If you are a procrastinator we highly recommend it.
We will share our own journey of overcoming procrastination in a separate blogpost.
Few Examples where we practised Delayed Gratification
In the past 4 years, we have made many trade-offs to stay our course. We are sharing a few of the key ones with you. For us these trade-offs are our successes and not deprivations.
Honeymoon vs. Saving for F.I.R.E
After marriage we started saving towards Early Retirement instead of taking a honeymoon. As you know I had quit my job and Naren had started a business when we got married. All this reduced our income to a fraction of what it used to be. Under such circumstances we chose to allocate all our savings to future SIPs towards FIRE, leaving nothing for travelling. We lessened the pinch by reminding ourselves that we moved to live in a honeymoon destination : Goa 😉
Also as a life philosophy we try to improve the quality of our daily life over enjoying 15-20 days of luxury. Coming back to life/work you don’t like can suck big time.
Super comfortable house vs. Comfortable Pregnancy
We allocated funds towards pregnancy and 1st year of childcare right after our marriage instead of using it to set up our new house. We bought bare minimum furnishings and slowly over 4 years bought stuff to make our house more comfortable. We would choose mental peace over physical comfort or material things any day.
That savings made our pregnancy and life after our baby super comfortable. Pregnancy and a New baby can be a bit stressful financially. The funds we set aside 3 years back made sure that both of us were stress-free as far as money was concerned. We could hire an extra maid without thinking twice and I could opt for Ayurvedic supplements during pregnancy etc. without having to pinch pennies. So we consider this decision a big win for our family.
Cute Small Flat vs. Big beautiful sea facing apartment
We saw and fell in love with a beautiful sea facing apartment in Goa 🙂 See photos below. We could see how living in this house would add so much beauty to our daily life. But sadly the rent of this place was over 3 times our current apartment. We could only afford to live in this house for a year or two using some of our savings. The temptation was very hard to resist but then we decided to rather wait till we could afford it without impacting our other long term financial goals. Another life philosophy we have is to secure our current lifestyle permanently before making lifestyle upgrades. This is another way of looking at the 25X target for FIRE.
So, we will revisit the below house 5 years down the line!!!
Frequent Gadget upgrades vs. Saving up to buy Long-lasting gadgets
We only recently upgraded our Mac laptops after using them for almost 6 years. This was only because AppleCare refused to repair our old laptops since they are now “vintage” models 😉 While I bought an iPhone last year for its better camera to take travel & baby photos, Naren is still using his 4-year old Moto phone. Don’t peg us as misers because when we do buy we spend extra on high-quality electronics that don’t require frequent upgrades due to poor quality builds. We saved up and bought all our electronics instead of using EMI. We fully intend to make our new laptops last for the next 6 years 🙂
Securing Kids College Fund vs. replacing 7-year old Hyundai i10 Car
We want to replace our automatic car (1100 cc) with something more powerful. It is a good city car on a good weather day but it fails to perform on a highway or on a hot day. We have to shut our A.C to overtake any vehicle 🙂 This activity helps us improve our teamwork 😉 as one of us would drive and the other would handle switching A.C off and on. But it does take the pleasure away from driving experience.
Anyhow we have decided to wait another 2-3 years and divert all the funds (gifts to us + Gift to Kid + our extra savings) towards our kid Kabir’s college fund. This was a fruitful decision because we already have accumulated 1/5th of his college fee in current value (20 lakhs).
How To Practise Delayed Gratification
Don’t know how to Practise Delayed Gratification? Worry not
If delayed gratification does not come naturally to you, it can be developed like any other muscle. Use your imagination and visualise your future goals.
Choosing delayed gratification requires the ability to envision your desired future if you forego your current desire; if you cannot paint a vivid picture of your future, you have little motivation to plan for it. Source
Marshmallow Experiment: Study on Delayed Gratification
In 1960-70’s a Stanford University Professor with fellow Psychologist conducted a series of studies on delayed gratification called the Marshmallow Experiment. In these studies kids were given one marshmallow and offered a choice to eat that one marshmallow or to wait 15 minutes and then get another marshmallow. Only 1/3rd of the kids could wait 15 mins. In follow-up studies of the same children as adults, the researchers found that children who were able to wait 15 mins tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT test scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.
This study hence claims that people who are able practise delayed gratification have a higher chances to succeed in life.
A fun video of marshmallow experiment:
So, what do you think about practising Delayed Gratification to further your goals? share with us in comments.
If you are already pro at practising Delayed Gratification share some tips with us in comments.