Are you tied down with all your financial obligations? Do you find yourself constantly complaining why you don’t seem to have enough money? Wondering why you’re living from paycheck to paycheck? Are you easily envious of people who get to travel often and think automatically that they’re rich that’s why they can afford it easily?
No matter how hard you look for answers, you won’t find any. Why? Because you are asking the wrong questions. The only question that you should be asking is, “where did all my money go?”. Do you have any idea at all how much you are spending on food, clothes, eating out, etc.? If you have no clue at all, then that’s the answer right there. You don’t seem to care much about your finances to know where your money is actually going.
But tracking your spending habits is not really what this article is all about. While it’s true that tracking your spending habits will help you manage your finances better, there’s still that one thing that’s keeping you away from achieving financial independence. What could it be?
Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment. Basically, it’s when you want it; and you want it now.
Sometimes we feel so entitled, thinking we can easily justify where and how we spend our money but in reality, instant gratification always come into play. There are several scenarios that you can find yourself in, and don’t even realize it —
- I feel so stressed I need to get a massage and a grande Dark Mocha frappe.
- I don’t have time to cook, I will just eat out.
- I need to have that bag to match the dress that I bought two weeks ago.
- It was such a stressful week at work, I need to wind down with friends and drink until we drop.
- And the most common, a new iPhone will be released next week! I need to have one.
Sounds too familiar, right? I feel you.
I used to spend so much money eating out and buying stuff that end up sleeping in my closet. It wasn’t until I made the conscious effort to track my monthly expenses that I realized how my money was going down the drain.
Anyway, it’s not entirely your fault for giving in because let’s face it, temptations are just about everywhere! So safe to say that yes, half of it can be blamed to consumer marketing. Marketing ads are highly effective that impulse buying can easily become your second nature. In fact, marketing agencies are using instant gratification tactic to appeal more to people like you and me. They create ads that will make you want to buy almost instantly.
However, while you may not have control over that, you have control over yourself.
Of course, you have 100% say on how you spend your hard-earned money but stop complaining that you don’t have enough when you spend $20/week on Starbucks coffee, $200 on weekends when you go partying with friends, and go on a shopping spree, that is way out of budget, the same day you got your pay. And the worst of all, spending the money you don’t have yet for things that you don’t need in the first place.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Pampering yourself to things that you like is perfectly normal but when you do it on a regular basis, then it’s not pampering anymore. It has turned into habit that’s contributing highly to your monthly expenses.
Why do you think your friends get to travel more? It’s not always because they have more money, but because they prioritize where their money is going. While you drink your Starbucks coffee every day, they choose to drink instant coffee instead so they can save money for an upcoming trip. While you eat out, they choose to cook, and while you go to bars on weekends, they choose to stay in just so they can save more.
It’s not rocket science when you look at it. We all have our bad days, every day at the office can be a bad day, but that doesn’t justify spending on temporary things thinking it can compensate and make us feel better. We all have our wants and almost always, we want to have what we want NOW.
Reality is, instant gratification can make you feel good but only for a brief moment. When you start prioritizing where you want to spend your money, it can create a lasting effect in your lifestyle.
If you want to strive for financial independence, there are several ways to do it. The most common, and easiest you can do, is track your spending habits and prioritize where your money is going. Nothing will change until you decide that something needs to change. And know that making certain sacrifices for long-term gains has done more good than bad.