God Give Me Patience, But I Want it Right Feckin' Now
Those were the word on a tongue-in-cheek wall plaque in my Grandmother's kitchen in 'Lovely Laois' over 20 years ago. As a very religious woman it was a little risque but this reflected her deep wit and ability to keep you guessing! I imagine it was a reference to the demands for food placed on her by her 8 children, but the words struck a chord with me and its one of the few sayings I remember after many years.
Speaking of patience (dodgy segway time!), in the last Blog we looked at the crazy crazy idea of having some patience and putting something aside over a long period of time, to enjoy at a future point in time. This week we were to discuss paying off one's mortgage, however last week's episode drew some attention and got at least one person thinking! That one person felt compelled to write a note in the Comments section of the Blog (Click Here).
The summary of the comment was 'why on God's earth would I wait 15 or 30 years to get to spend my money? Well achieving one's financial goals is all about planning & patience but ultimately about delaying gratification (something I wasn't a natural at!).
The Marshmallow Experiment
I'd love to share the story of the above experiment with you, to help paint the picture! This experiment in 1975 involved bringing individual children into a private room, placing a single yummy marshmallow on a table in front of them, and then offering them a deal! Each child was told that the researcher was going to leave them alone in the room for 15 minutes and that if the child did not eat the marshmallow in that time they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow! However, if the child did eat the marshmallow they wouldn't get the second one. Delay the gratification of eating the first one and you get 2 of them in 15minutes time. Much like our decisions to spend now versus saving for the future! No?
It's good to smile, so take the 3.5minutes to watch this more recent clip of how it plays-out! (Click the link below, and just hit 'back' button on the top left of your browser to come back to this page when finished watching)
What happened next?:
Over the following 40 years following the original experiment the researchers continued to monitor the 'children's' progress in all aspects of their lives. It became clear early on that the children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher scores in their education system. This cohort also displayed lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their family and friends, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures. The experiments indicated that the ability to delay gratification was critical in making informed decisions and achieving goals. But we knew that already, right?
While it can't be argued that one's life will be determined solely by delaying gratification as a 4 year old, it is clear that if you want to succeed at something, at some point you will need to find the ability to be disciplined and take action instead of becoming distracted and doing/spending what’s easy and right in front of your nose.
For many of us our financial goals can looks like insurmountable feats in the far far distance, years away and almost seems like it will never happen. As Granny's plaque eluded to many of us feel like 'I want it right feckin now'!
Quite often the best course of action is not to give in, and to take action now, making it easy for yourself, and start really really small.
Good luck to you.
Next week we'll look at how mortgages work and perhaps shock you with regards amounts of interest which are paid (or not!) over differing periods of time.
As always thanks for reading and sharing.
If you prefer to listen than read check out the Informed Decisions Podcast on iTunes or click here.