Delay Gratification or Die!

“But mom, I want it now!” Do you remember uttering those words as a kid? I sure do. They were usually followed by a swift backhand to the face delivered by Mom Ninja. While I use to think she just got a sick pleasure out of smacking me, I realized she was actually teaching me an important life lesson: Just because I wanted something right then and there, didn’t mean I’d get it. She was teaching me to delay my urge to “want”.

I don’t think that we have to delay gratification in all aspects of life. If you are hungry, you should probably eat. If you feel fat because you just ate, you should probably run. If you feel tired because you went running, you should probably take a nap. See there are times when immediate gratification pays off, but there are also times when waiting pays back ten fold.

Here are a few areas of my life that I have committed to delay gratification…


Each month I put $674 dollars in to retirement for future me to enjoy. While it would be totally awesome to spend that money on a ton of frivolous expenses now, I decide not to. I have tamed my desire to accumulate stuff, and replaced it with a commitment to providing for my future self and family. I know that contributing to retirement will benefit me far more than wasteful spending ever can. I do my best to live a disciplined life, especially when it comes to securing my future.


I’ve always taken love seriously. I knew it was something greater than a word. I knew I could not just go around telling every girlfriend I’ve had that I love them. It wasn’t until I met Girl Ninja that I was ready to love someone. I’m glad to say she is the first, and the last, woman I will ever love. (Side note: I am Girl Ninja’s only boyfriend and her first kiss….isn’t that precious!) We made some decisions early in our relationship to delay the immediate benefits of being in love. We did not want to move in together or participate in “adult” activities until we were married. We have both delayed our desire to combine our lives because we believe that our upcoming marriage will be stronger because of our patience. That’s not to say couples that haven’t “waited” suck at delaying gratification or will have a less satisfactory relationship ’cause I don’t think they will. Girl Ninja and I are just weird and have different views…okay?

Peanut Butter and Jelly:

Yeah that’s right. I delay my gratification when it comes to eating a PB&J. We all know the crust is the worst part of a sandwich right? It’s dry, discolored, and doesn’t really provide much benefit to my eating experience. It’s for this reason that I eat the crust first. I get the hard part done so every progressive bite gets that much more tasty. It all comes to a rising climax as I get to the last bite. The best bite. The center of the sandwich. There’s something about the middle of a sandwich that is heavenly. It’s as if god reveals himself to us all through that delicious last bite. Every time I eat a PB&J, I make sure to eat around the edges so I can save the best part for last. Here’s a picture of my sammich from last night…

Discipline is what separates the strong from the weak, the rich from the poor, the smart from the stupid. Maturity is often defined by the willingness to delay gratification. Does your personal and financial life reflect maturity? I sure hope it does!

What are some areas of your life where you have chosen to “wait”? Have you ever delayed gratification for something and wish that you hadn’t? Why do you think so many people struggle with this concept? Is it clever advertising? Media? Jealousy? Do all cultures struggle with this, or is it an American thing?

p.s. on an unrelated note, if you didn’t catch it when I twittered this, check out the funniest Yahoo question ever asked, followed by an even funnier response…

Happy weekend all. Don’t get too crazy 🙂

21 thoughts on “Delay Gratification or Die!”

  1. I also eat the middle of my PB & J sandwiches last, and I managed to increase my net worth by ~30k my first year working (60% of my salary). I think you may have discovered the secret to personal finance.

  2. After two 10 pound babies, boy would I love a tummy tuck. I'm delaying it for several reasons. 1) I still have mortgage debt 2) I'm not back to my skinniest ever size and maybe I'll look just fine another 10 pounds from now 3) if I wait long enough maybe I won't be as shallow and actually not care about my stretched out body parts. 4) there's risk in any surgery and it seems silly to risk my health for vanity. So, I told myself I'll think about it again when I'm 40 (3.5 years from now)

    Knowing me, it may never happen because I'd probably rather put the dough towards kid's college or some other thing first, but I like knowing it's an option.

    I met this really evil guy in a training class about 5 years ago. His job was to give people loans for plastic surgeries. With a glimmer in his eye he said "I love when people break their jaws in a car accident…that's easily a $30K loan." The whole experience was disturbing on so many levels. "You see, the trick is we give people 0% financing for a year, but if they are late on 1 payment, which by the way, 27% of people are, we jack their interest rates to 30%."

    • Maybe its just me, but wouldn't either their health insurance or the medical coverage in the car insurance cover the surgery to fix the broken jaw?
      But as a person who was lucky enough to have health insurance cover my jaw surgery as a kid, I seriously wouldn't wish that surgery and recovery on anyone.

      • I asked that same question. You're right. Not everyone has insurance and not everything is covered (like cosmetic dentistry if all your teeth are knocked out). You may get a set of dentures, but alot of times they won't pay to put your teeth back in. He actually said his biggest ticket item was cosmetic you see on those extreme makeover shows and insurance considers that an "elective" procedure.

  3. My husband has ADD so there's a LOT of delayed gratification in debt reduction for him. Because he pretty much wants everything he sees. And, as he often reminds me, asking him to wait three days for something means I may as well be asking him to wait three years. As a result, we work for a balance of something between all immediate gratification (him) and all self-deprivation (me).

    One place I put my foot down, though, is a dog. He desperately wants one — has for the almost-four years we've been together. But he brought a lot of debt to the relationship: student loans plus we had to incur some medical bills. And I refuse to take on the responsibility of another pet (I had a cat when we met) until we can take proper care of a dog. It was hard for him at first, but he relented that it was the responsible thing to do.

    Meanwhile, we'd both love new clothes and fun stuff like that, but we mainly put it off — unless we find a killer sale or I have some gift cards handy — so that we can pay down our debt first.

    • My husband also has ADD, and since I don't, I didn't totally realize the havoc it can have on your finances and your marriage. We just went through a period of "all immediate gratification (him) and all self-deprivation (me)" and its been hell. But I'm learning, very slowly, to put my foot down as well. He doesn't like it either, but if we are ever to have kids, there are some new ground rules that we have to play by.

  4. LMAO at the Yahoo Answers!

    I don't think I've ever waited for something and regretted it. Patience is a wonderful virtue and it really makes everything much more sweet once you tack on maturity and wisdom to the experience in question.

    It seems like our parent's generation describes life as "keep your head down, work hard, and someday you'll get it." Our generation says that life is what you make it: so go after whatever you want. If you don't get it, you didn't try hard enough. I don't know what caused the shift, but I'll blame it on the big hair of the 80s. And shoulder pads. They seem like easy enough targets.

    I want to say it is an American thing, but I'm iffy about generalizations. Although my parents are Haitian, they raised my siblings and I here, so we got some blending of mainstream American and Haitian cultures. I do see that my peers in Haiti have different outlooks on how life is, but that could be just the subset of people I know.

  5. People always think I'm weird when I eat the stuff that I don't like first. But I would rather get it over with and only have things that I want to eat to look forward to and enjoy!

  6. I do the same with my sandwiches, and my cake (save some icing) and my mashed potatoes (save the butteriest scoop for last), and my hot cereal (save the part with the most brown sugar), etc. I'm glad I'm not the only one….at least with the sandwiches 🙂

  7. I not only do the same with my sandwiches, but with other foods, too — i eat cupcakes from the bottom up so I can save all of the frosting yumminess for last. Outside of food, though, I tend to delay my own gratification for things I want so that others can have them instead — think presents or stuff my husband wants, like DVDs, special dinners, etc. I'd rather sacrifice so I can allow others to enjoy the things they want. Bet I'll make a good mom, lol.

  8. The hubs and I desperately want a child, but we are waiting until I finish paying off Sallie Mae (stupid barefoot KY girl who steals all my money) cuz', ya know, I'd like to send my children to college too.

  9. Don't say you're weird! I wish I had delayed all the same boyfriend/girlfriend stuff you were talking about.

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