Frugality,  Simplicity

The Art of Delayed Gratification

There comes a time when even the biggest cheapskate decides that it is time to bite the bullet and spend some money. I needed a new writing computer whether I liked it or not.

It isn’t easy to wait for something you need while you save up money for the purchase. Every time you see a sale pass you by it burns. I am not immune to that.

I’ve learned to cope by developing a ritual for the process. Every single payday when I set some money aside for my goal I write it down and take a moment to give myself a mental pat on the back. I remind myself that I’m a bit closer than I was the previous week.

When it seems like I’ll never make it I look at the money I have already saved along with a picture of the item in question. I close my eyes and imagine how wonderful it will be to see the item in my home and to use it for the very first time. I look back at the photos of previous purchases to remind myself that I felt the exact same way as I saved up for them as well. While it always feels like I’ll never make it, those photos are proof that I have in the past and will do it again.

When the moment arrives where I have saved up enough money I take a few moments to savor the sensation. Sometimes I will deliberately delay the purchase even longer to enjoy the fact that I actually have the money to purchase the item in question. By the time I sit down to place the order I feel truly rich.

Then I sit down at the computer, look at the item one last time, and ask myself the following questions:

* Do I really want to buy this?
* Will this item meet my needs?
* Have I shopped around enough to get the best deal that I can?

If the answers are yes then I complete the purchase. I schedule the delivery to arrive when someone will be home to sign for it when it comes. When that is done, I prepare a place in my tiny home for it while I wait. I make sure the area is spotless as I mentally plan the unboxing and initial setup.

I deliberately psyche myself up to a feverish pitch before every major purchase. I know that I won’t buy anything large for quite a while so I make the most of the experience. After it arrives I take a moment to just admire it in its packaging. I snap a few photos, take a deep breath, and slowly begin to upwrap it.

This is what I purchased this time: a refurbished desktop computer running Windows 10 with a set of specs that will more than meet my needs. Even better, the system can be upgraded at a reasonable price so that I can keep it in service even longer.

My total price was $325, including shipping. Not bad for a quad-core computer that has 16 GB of RAM. It even has a 2 TB hard drive.

How do you deal with delayed gratification? Please share your stories in the comments below.

5 Comments

  • Cam Coogan

    I love your anticipatory process, Annie. Delayed gratification- currently I have some land I want to move to and live on, completely off-grid. However, I need to delay moving there while my mother lives with me because, at her age of 95, taking an outdoor shower and using an outdoor composting toilet is NOT what she wants to do. So. we age together in this house filled with modern cash-draining conveniences. In the meantime, I read about self-sufficiency, off-grid living and how to survive in the woods, hoping to be ready whenever the time comes.

    • Annie

      That is awesome, Cam! That also allows you time to research, figure out exactly what you want, and how you plan to go about getting it. Kudos to you!

      And even more kudos on top of that for staying with your mother. I made a promise to my beloved Auntie several years ago that I would do what was in my power at the time to prevent her from being placed in a nursing home. You have my deepest respect.

  • Linda Sand

    You reminded me of the days when I would buy things on the Lay-away plan. The store would put the item away for me until I could finish paying for it. That way you could be sure it would not disappear from inventory while you saved up to pay for it.

    • Annie

      Omigosh! Layaway! Oh how I miss layaway! Used to be, that’s how us old fogies used to buy big-ticket items; I remember the distinct pleasure of guarding my precious layaway slip, going to the store every payday to whittle down how much I owed until finally, FINALLY I got to take the item home.

      Modern day instant gratification just does NOT compare.

  • EcoCatLady

    Ha! I too bought a Windows 10 computer this year. I fear I spent WAY more than you did though – as speed was a huge concern for me – I do a lot of high resolution photo editing, so I went with a schmancy new model. Gotta say though – that the time I no longer spend cursing at the machine when it would crash, or wouldn’t boot, or would hang inexplicably, is worth it’s weight in gold. Enjoy your new computer, as well as the fact that you totally earned it!