Today, I had an Epiphany (Seriously) – On Delayed Gratification

This feels like the first time I figured out that the first letter of the Disney logo really is a D. I thought it was a G for most of my life, never questioning that the G made no sense at all. (For people who had similar reactions, there is a Facebook Group with 166,000 members strong.)

So here’s my epiphany: For me, in almost every aspect of my life, it’s all about the experience now.

That may not sound very revolutionary, but it affects every single aspect of my life. Let’s rewind.

How I got here

Last week, Jason and I had a conversation about saving money (something he is good at and I am not). After three years of dating, we finally figured out that the reason we have such different views on money is because we spend money different ways. He buys stuff – toys, gadgets, games – and I buy experiences – food, drinks, going out with friends. For him, it’s easy to stop buying stuff – or tell himself to wait for it. For me, it hurts my heart to say no to friends who want to spend time with me.

Today, An unknown person named esco commented on a post from earlier this summer about my Vegetarian week. Which led me to give it a reread, including this quote that I wrote:

“I have this philosophy about food that it is more important to enjoy life than to count calories and be hungry just so I look better in photographs.”


It made me realize that that’s exactly the problem I have with money as well. For me, it’s all about the experience. In my mind, it is better to enjoy life in the now than count calories or even count pennies. What if I miss something amazing? What if I die tomorrow and all of it was for nothing? It’s the same reason I sacrifice sleep to stay up late until the very end of a party or emptied my savings account in college for a summer in Europe.

So Now What?

I’ve read (and highly recommend) Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover, the whole idea of which is that sacrifice now will bring great reward later. It sounds like a biblical proverb (several actually) – some call it delayed gratification.

It’s something I never thought I had a problem with, which might be why it struck me so hard. The ability to delay gratification is often a sign of emotional and social maturity, and intelligence – all things I feel like I have.

I’ve run across a few really great posts on the subject that I highly recommend.

From – 5 ways to delay gratification:

  1. Make an Advance Decision and Know What You Want (write it down!)
  2. Know what is Important to You- Know Your Values.
  3. Have a Plan
  4. Prioritize
  5. Reward Yourself

From Zen Habits (I just subscribed to the email digest) – how to enjoy life now AND save for later. Some of my favorites on the list:

  • Find Free or Cheap Pleasures
  • Track Your Successes
  • Slow Down


Have you read any great books on the subject? Follow any bloggers? How do you take control? Any suggestions are very, VERY welcome!

Photo thanks to Flickr user SqueakyMarmot

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  • Reply


    July 10, 2010

    This is a really, really good post. And I can certainly relate.

    When I have to make cut backs, the food and drink portion is the first to go. And yeah, it IS hard, but friends like you are trying to save money like me and understand why I say no sometimes.

    Here’s what Raf and I do:

    — If we want to hang with friends, we offer the option to have them over and we play host.

    — we buy cheaper booze and might start drinking before going out.

    — If at a bar, we drink specials or the cheapest beer. We also set a limit before arriving so once the tab is closed, it’s closed

    — No buying lunch at work

    — Most of our friends are ok with cheap meals (Chipotle) so that’s always great.

    I love experiences, however, what I realized a while ago is that I don’t need to say yes to every invitation to go out. Sometimes it sucks, but when I DO go out, well, I make up for all of the missed times.

  • Reply

    JJ Lassberg

    July 12, 2010

    "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind" – Eker… changed my life. It helped me see it wasn't just about not spending… I realized I had to change my whole relationship to money. I saw how my parents and family related to money and that's what I was reproducing. After that I read "The Energy of Money" – Nemeth & "You Can Heal Your Life" – Hay… both were amazing and helped me further on the path. Still, I can remember how "Millionaire Mine" which is a little book – totally rocked my world. I think I actually might go back and read again – thanx for the post and the renewed motivation!

  • Reply


    July 12, 2010

    You guys are fantastic! Thank you, thank you for the recommendations and motivation!

  • Reply


    July 12, 2010

    You come by your foibles genetically. I think I share some of your struggles. For me, it's easy to delay big things (a nice vacation, a new car) and way harder to put off small things (lunch, a new pair of shoes).

    I admire your ability to see your issues and come up with a plan of attack.

  • Reply


    August 5, 2010

    You're doing it right.

    We've been following Dave's financial advice for years now. Credit cards and having to send away entire paychecks to pay'em down are a distant memory. I've even got to where I enjoy delayed gratification. Things mean a little more when we've worked and saved, and waited to pay cash.

  • Reply


    August 31, 2010

    I'm slow to replying to this post, but my dos pesos:

    – I adore and Ramit's book — he makes a big deal about not killing yourself by knocking out smaller luxuries if they make you happy. He also has good thoughts on the psychology of money:

    – I'm a FIEND for coupon and deal sites, I rarely shop at a big store without at least one or two coupons — and am much smarter about buying 1) what's in season and 2) what's on sale and building meals and other stuff around that.


    Congrats on taking this big step, gal!!! Maybe we need to start 'bring your lunch to work' lunch clubs at Schipul-Land…


  • Reply


    December 13, 2011

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  • Reply


    December 13, 2011

    Thanks a lot for a bunch of good tips. I look forward to reading more on the topic in the future. Keep up the good work! This blog is going to be great resource and I love reading it.

  • Reply

    kako napraviti sajt

    December 17, 2011

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