How to Life Hack Delayed Gratification

How to Life Hack Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification. Oof. Scary stuff, right?

Honestly, I think they are probably two of the most important words that Millennials should be focusing on while we are all still young. Learning how to practice delayed gratification was the key factor in the small amounts of success I’ve had so far in life.

My zeroed out student loan balance, a full year of salary safety net, and now potential $120,000+ income (from a website no less) are all products of learning how to……wait.

Don’t worry – Delayed gratification can be temporary

*GASP* – yes. It’s true. Delayed gratification is just a tool to get you to higher stages in life, and it doesn’t have to be deployed endlessly. I live significantly better than I did 5 years ago when my wife and I were living at her parent’s house. I’ll live significantly better 5 years from now when I’m not paying myself just $1,800 a month from a $10,000+ a month business.

I think there are a few reasons that millennials want instant everything, and are rarely cool with waiting for things to happen in life:

1. The Internet

Our formative years included the internet, and more specifically Google. If there’s anything I want to see, place I want to find, or fact I need to prove you wrong – I can have it in about 10 seconds.

I truly believe that this bleeds into almost every aspect of our lives, and is a leading factor in the reason that the vast majority of young people suck at being patient with their money (or anything else).

2. Advertising

It’s that one thing that is underlying in almost every aspect of our lives, and we are both blind to it and completely influenced by it at the same time. I’m obviously part of the guilty party with the ads I have on the site, my marketing company, as well as my aggressive Facebook advertising for M$M.

Regardless of if we like it or not, advertising is a part of life. People and companies pay GOOD money to get you to do things now rather than later, which is another reason delayed gratification is tough to master.

I think the key to being less influenced by advertising and less likely to make gut financial decisions is to be hyper aware of it (which is what I try to do – ask my wife how hard it is to sit through a movie with me calling out every product placement I see).

3. Lack of Perspective

This one is hard, right? How in the world could someone like me expect young people to have wisdom beyond their years. I wasn’t born with more perspective than the average person – I learned it. 

Many of my closest friends are MUCH older than me. Some people might think that’s weird, but I literally don’t care. I hang out with millionaires and pick their brains while other people shotgun beers at parties. It’s just how I roll. 🙂

If you haven’t yet – take some time and try to find some accomplished mentors. When I first started M$M, one of the first posts and I guess the “foundation” of the message that I wanted to push was learning from people with experience. You can read it here.

So what’s the key to mastering delayed gratification?

I gave a couple hints above – but in my opinion the number one thing you can do to grow more patient is to observe more and act less.

It sounds stupidly simple, but there are so many times that I notice people are quick to act and slow to listen and watch (and hopefully learn). The reason I paid off my loans early is because I took advice from a mentor. That simple.

The reason I saved up money is because I watched all of the people around me live paycheck to paycheck on decent salaries while driving nice cars. I decided that was a bad idea.

I have built a business from absolutely nothing because I immersed myself in listening to successful people and information. Working pretty well, right?

Also – you have to be cool with having less than your peers

This is the point that I pound over and over again on M$M. The everyday people that are killing it with their money are the ones that let the people in their lives pass them up. It’s hard to get used to at first, but it only takes a few years of really making sacrifices to blow past anyone you know financially.

Question for you:

  1. Are you any good at delayed gratification?

  2. What have you held off on?

Live differently. Your bank accounts will thank me later. ~M$M

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17 comments… add one
  • Ashley Nov 30, 2016, 6:52 am

    I really enjoy reading your posts! I’m a fourth year English teacher in NC. I attended a private college, but made out with less than $30,000 debt. I’m on track to be DEBT-FREE by March of 2017, and your blog posts help keep me focused! You speak to me on so many levels, and I really appreciate your effort and time!

    Keep it up – millennials like me need your wise words!

  • Chad Burkholder Nov 30, 2016, 7:39 am

    Love your article! I crave delayed gratification. Some how I feel rewarded every time I put off a purchase. It makes me feel more confident in my future. Thanks for the good read!

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher Nov 30, 2016, 7:59 am

    I think peer pressure and keeping up with the Joneses is also a reason Millennials are falling for instant gratification. “If Sally has a new car, I should get a new car, too!” You really have to be okay with being “the weird person” who wears clothes from ten years ago and drives an even older car.

    I just experienced delayed gratification, and I can say it’s been awesome! I’m big on baking and I’ve wanted a KitchenAid mixer for years. But I waited to make sure it was something I wanted and that would give me decent returns. Well, after a few years of waiting and careful budgeting, I now have a KitchenAid. 🙂 I should get a good return on it, since I’ll be making more homemade food in addition to more complex baking projects.

    • Millennial Money Man Nov 30, 2016, 8:02 am

      That’s totally true! Those KitchenAid’s aren’t cheap – but they are definitely nice!!!!!

  • Christa Szabo Nov 30, 2016, 9:05 am

    And amazing article! I’m always discussing the concept of delayed gratification and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who believes it. And once you start paying off debt, delayed gratification no longer feels like a chore because the feeling of being one step closer to being debt free is an even better feeling. I do still buy myself things, like books, because I know (from past experience) that if I deny myself too much, I’ll spend triple the amount lol

  • Financial Panther Nov 30, 2016, 9:31 am

    I definitely used to be HORRIBLE with delayed gratification. In college, if I wanted something, I wanted it right away! I think ever since I’ve started getting into personal finance, my ability to exercised delayed gratification has improved. It’s really about being able to see that big picture that helps on that front.

    • Millennial Money Man Nov 30, 2016, 9:15 pm

      I was the same way in college. I didn’t really get better at it until I met some mentors!

  • Jamie Nov 30, 2016, 1:26 pm

    My wife and I have been aggressively paying off debt over the past few years and are only a few short months from being debt free, minus our mortgage. We have given up going out to eat and traveling. We love to go out with friends and grabbing food or drinks but we don’t want to spend the money at the expense of our long term goals. Delayed gratification is a constant in our household and our finances are so much better off. We still hang out with friends and travel, we just make sure we stay within the limits of our budget! Thanks for all of your great wisdom and insight!

    • Millennial Money Man Nov 30, 2016, 9:15 pm

      Wow – you’re so close! Love seeing that. It’s really amazing how big of a difference delayed gratification can make, thanks for reading!

  • Kate Nov 30, 2016, 2:48 pm

    Yes! Delayed gratification can make us better people! I think even forcing yourself to wait 24 hours before a purchase often results in not buying it at all. That thrill of instant gratification goes away and poof! You don’t even want the thing anymore.

  • Stephen Dec 1, 2016, 10:13 pm

    I’ve definitely got the delayed gratification thing mastered. My plan for years when I graduated and got a high paying job was to buy a used M3 Bmw. On a workterm my supervisor who had just started with the company a few months before lived with his parents for a bit and saved $25k to buy a used 2003 laguna seca blue m3…that was the car I wanted so bad, had the poster on my wall in university and everything. Jump forward almost ten years now, I’ve had that much and more in my bank account for over 6 years and I still haven’t pulled the trigger. I bought a used Rav4. I haven’t bought myself a primary residence yet either, I keep buying income generating assets instead. Really at any point I could buy that dream car but now I dream of more expensive cars and keep moving that goal further and further away so I don’t lose my drive.

  • Lynsey Dec 4, 2016, 11:29 pm

    Great read! I’ve always been OK at the delayed gratification thing, but it wasn’t until I started reading personal finance blogs and listening to podcasts (about 3 years ago) that I really started working on mastering it! One observation I’ve made from looking at my peer’s financial habits, who are also millennials like myself, is that when the whole “YOLO” thing became a popular phrase, good judgement and delayed gratification just went right out the window!!! Their logic of “Hey I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, I should buy these insanely expensive shoes/tickets/cars/handbags/etc today!” because “YOLO!” just blew my mind!!!! Maybe one day they’ll stumble across your blog like I did and change their thinking too! 🙂

    • Millennial Money Man Dec 5, 2016, 8:10 am

      Thanks Lynsey! That’s so funny – I actually forgot that YOLO was a thing haha. There’s actually a ton of value in realizing that we only live once…but not so you can spend all the money you make!

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