Practicing delayed gratification is said to be something successful people do but when you’re not yet successful it can just feel like an endless cycle of telling yourself “No, not yet.” “No Wait.” “Don’t spend that you may need it.” or “Don’t go there you can’t afford it.”
Destination Gratification: Flight 2018 Delayed
I love going into the mall to gaze longingly at all the s—- I can not afford. I am the queen of delayed gratification but the truth is, it only works because I “gratify” myself in some way. If you’re trying to save money or spend less, it’s often believed that you must cut out activities that encourage consumerism. I, in fact, think that the best advice is to conquer those places, because let’s face it, my favorite coffee shop is a place I go to clear my head or bury it deep into a book.
The $5 iced mocha with cinnamon and whipped cream is a knee-jerk reaction to feeling like I’m expected to buy something because I’m benefiting from the calm, creative environment. NOBODY said I had to buy a $5 coffee though; I could buy the orange juice for $1.50 and enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted reading/writing just as much. Sometimes delayed gratification doesn’t mean skipping gratification altogether, it can also mean just downgrading it.
Treat each personal expedition like a trip into the super market because no one likes to be caught in the grocery store starving, with no list.
Modify to Moderation
How often you do something effects aspects like enjoyment and expenses. If you’re at Starbucks every day then not only will it get pricey but that caramel macchiato may not taste as great because of over saturation (OKAY it definitely will) but the idea is to place yourself on a consumer diet. You can cut back on your weekly/monthly/yearly intake of shopping/eating out/pampering without completely stopping the things you enjoy like going to the mall or that cute, pricey restaurant downtown. Spread out how often you visit places that encourage you to buy, buy, BUY!
Any healthy, effective diet allows you to indulge a little to keep you from falling off the wagon. I try to give myself a small break of dinner and a movie once a month like discussed in Fajitas and Feeling Myself because no one wants to be all work (or delayed gratification) and no play. It’s important for your mental health to do the things you enjoy but it’s equally important to your wallet to do so in moderation.
Budget to Your Benefit
Whenever I go to the mall, Barnes & Nobles, or my favorite coffee place, I go in with a set amount that I’ve saved up just for the occasion. I usually go to my coffee shop 1 to 2 times every two weeks and the mall every couple of months (because I can honestly find whatever I need cheaper somewhere else, so I go solely for the atmosphere). Whether I place my money cap at $5 up to $25; I know that I have a set amount I’m not going above. I treat my personal enjoyment outings like a trip to the grocery store with a mental list of what I want out of my experience. If my goal is to enjoy the company of 10 strangers while reading Gather Together In My Name by Maya Angelou then I really have no desire to spend on others things like the huge brownie staring at me from the barista’s counter. Which brings me to the next point…
Treat each personal expedition like a trip into the super market because no one likes to be caught in the grocery store starving, with no list. Going with a specific purpose works wonders. When you have no idea what you want out of your experience you could end up overspending.
Going to Soule Cafe usually means I want to get some blogging or reading done so picking water over a huge mug of delicious coffee only slightly hurts. And for the ones that are saying, “Why not just stay home?” the answer to that lies within the fact that many creative types have a certain place or zone that stimulates their craft. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice that place unless you find it particularly difficult to stick to your original game plan. I personally still feel gratified having accomplished the task I set out to do in a soothing environment. When I go to the mall it’s because I want to be out and do something; If I walk away with one small Forever 21 bag with a $7 shirt in it, I still feel like…
because I effectively scratched the itch to shop while staying within my $20 budget and still have enough for a trip to the food court (WINNING!)
Heading out on a Saturday afternoon with a game plan I’ve concocted throughout the week helps me stay true to my emotional/mental needs as well as my financial ones.
In the mall
First I make a strategic B line for the $10 sales rack at Aeropostale; head straight up the middle of the mall (Avoiding all eye contact with kiosks!), tackle the stacks of sales books at Barnes and Nobles then rush the end zone (parking lot) for the win! BOOO-YAAA.
How do you conquer YOUR consumerism? Comment below and Let’s Talk.