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Do Youngsters Believe in 'Delayed Gratification'? Spending now for a small gratification, or saving now for that much bigger pleasure in the future are two very different choices

By Anil Rego

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If you were offered a choice between one small reward given immediately or two small rewards if you waited for a short period of time, what will you do? Delayed gratification is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a bigger reward that comes later. In a world of fast-food, speed-life, quick promotions and instant noodles, delayed gratification is very topical when it comes to managing money and getting rich. Not every youngster believes in delayed gratification, and this is also a reason why they face money problems.

Mindset Change

Traditionally, India is a country that mostly comprises of people who are busy surviving. The poor and middle class are in a continuous war of survival. Children's psyche is shaped at a very young age and as they grow and become youngsters, notions get a deeper imprint. After a challenging first 20-25 years of life, youngsters get financial freedom through salary. Having lived in a controlled environment in terms of expenses under parent tutelage, some youngsters want everything 'now. By opting for instant gratification of wants, they subconsciously try to become happy. In a world full of credit cards and loans on a click, instant gratification costs them financially. When they realize this truth some years down the line, they are busy dealing with repayments.

Delaying Works

People with an LCD TV often end up buying an LED or HD TV after viewing ads. Those with a small car, purchase a costlier sedan. Happy with trips in the country previously, some people travel the world when they hear great stories of overseas travel. Instant gratification works like a drug for their brain. However, delaying the same want can actually save you a lot of money. When people delay consumer durable purchases or travel for a short period of time, they actually realize the difference between a want and a need. If you are excited after reading a new smartphone review, delay the purchase for 2 months and see how long the excitement sustains. The results will surprise you. After 2 months, you may not be smitten by that smartphone which seemed like the best thing to buy previously.

Shifting Focus Brings Results

One of the most effective ways to distract ourselves from a tempting pleasure we don't want to indulge is by shifting our focus. When you want to purchase the costly dress for a vacation, telling yourself you don't want that can be very hard. Instead, buy yourself a cap or a t-shirt. In this way, when you find yourself confronted with a temptation, don't employ willpower to resist it. Send your attention somewhere else. As your mind becomes stronger, you may not have to actually distract yourself by allowing a small gratification. You will be able to do this by imagining a different pleasure and remove yourself from the tempting pleasure environment. Many great sports-persons imagine themselves holding the cup or wearing the gold medal, making their minds subconsciously work harder towards that goal.

Spend Now or Save Now

Great things happen to people those are prepared to wait. One of the most common examples of delayed gratification is for a person to be able to save their money now to be able to purchase something in the future. For example, you want to purchase a new DSLR camera for INR 3 lakh and at this stage, you only have a quarter of that in cash, what do you do? Start saving. This is where the power of delayed gratification meets will-power. As a youngster, you will constantly be challenged on a daily basis with opportunities for you to spend money. If you train your mind, young people will be amazed by the amount of money that they can save now simply by making smarter choices with their finances. To help reach your financial goals, start thinking through what really matters most. Spending now for a small gratification, or saving now for that much bigger pleasure in the future are two very different choices.

Conclusion - The biggest personal finance lesson that anyone can learn is that of delayed gratification. The more quickly you learn, the better it is for your life.

Anil Rego

CEO and Founder, Right Horizons

Anil Rego is the CEO and founder of Right Horizons, an end-to-end Investment advisory and wealth management firm. An MBA and CFA degree holder, Anil believes in the Contrarian approach of wealth management. His areas of expertise includes Corpus fund management, tax planning and end to end financial planning for both residents and NRI investors .

Anil has worked for Wipro as Business Planning and Merger and Acquisition Manager before starting Right Horizons in October 2003. RightHorizons has branches across Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Anil has been a columnist in leading Indian newspapers. He also routinely answers queries in mainline publications and websites. He is also a Guest Lecturer with various business schools like ICFAI, ITM and Union Bank School of management. Anil has also served as member, Board of Governors, at IBSAF.

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