The Benefits of Delayed Gratification

*This is the 27th day of the One Month Spending Freeze Challenge. Please click here to see all of the posts in this series.*

Society is full of people who want, want, want, NOW, NOW, NOW. There’s no such thing as waiting anymore.

Delayed gratification actually has some wonderful benefits. The next time you want to buy something, try waiting for some time before getting it. You might be surprised how much willpower you have!© ChenPG / Dollar Photo Club

You want fries with that? Got it. No need to wait more than 20 seconds.

Your phone fell in the toilet? No problem, just run to your nearest phone retailer and get a new one.

You need to get away from life? Ok, just whip out your credit card and go for a quick weekend getaway.

A spending freeze makes it practically impossible to get exactly what you want at the moment you want it. You have to wait. Waiting for a month to buy something that you really want actually will do you some good, especially if you haven’t practiced delayed gratification in quite some time.

Why Is Instant Gratification Bad?

Imagine celebrating your birthday every month. How awesome would that be?! Everyone celebrating you 12 times a year instead of just once! Sounds like a dream.

Actually, to me, that sounds awful. Not just because I really don’t care for attention, but also because how old would it get to celebrate your birthday that often? It would just start to be a little too much, in my opinion.

Celebrating your birthday once a year, on the other hand, makes much more sense. The anticipation and excitement for your birthday is almost too much because it’s been so long since the last celebration happened.

Ever heard of the Marshmallow experiment?

It was a study done in the 60s and 70s by Walter Mischel at Stanford University. Kids were put in a room, one at a time, with a marshmallow set in front of them. They had the choice to eat that marshmallow right then or wait for the person to come back with a second marshmallow and then they could have two. If they ate the first while the person was away, they could not have the second. The experiment was done with marshmallows, cookies, and pretzels.

Overall, the kids who waited for the second marshmallow actually had better test scores, education, weight, and more as they got older. On the other hand, those who ate the first marshmallow right away tended to end up in jail later in life as well as get involved with drugs and alcohol.

You can watch how kids deal with the waiting in this YouTube video.

Why Would I Want to Wait for Something I Want?

You might be wondering what the benefit to waiting really is, especially when nothing would be stopping you from buying what you want. There are several benefits I came across through research, and below I have listed 3 main ones.

Waiting Could Save You Tons of Money

Sometimes, after you have waited to buy something, you will change your mind and decide you no longer need/want it.

That’s 100% savings right there.

Other times that you wait to buy something, you can get it for a whole lot cheaper than if you had bought it the moment you got it. This could mean that the item is now on sale or that you don’t have to pay interest from getting a loan or using a credit card.

Waiting Makes You Much More Appreciative

Another benefit of waiting to buy something is that you are more likely to take care of the object than if you had bought it right away.

Saving up your money to pay cash for something means that you sacrificed for a while. When you finally get what you were saving for, you will treat that item like gold.

Waiting Makes You More Excited and Happy

One more reason why you should practice waiting for the things you want most is that it can make you really excited and happy once the time arrives for you to actually get whatever it is. Studies show, though, that waiting for an experience makes people much more excited than waiting to buy a tangible object.

Delaying gratification is not easy to do, but if you have made it this far in the One Month Spending Freeze Challenge, you are doing superbly well. The only thing you have to watch for is to not go on a spending spree the minute you are allowed to spend money again.

There is no real challenge today, except that it might be fun to try the marshmallow experiment on your kids and other family members!

How do you do with delaying gratification?

Further reading:
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait: The Power and Pleasure of Delayed Gratification” by Brett and Kate McKay on The Art of Manliness on Aug. 11, 2011.
Waiting is worthwhile because it makes you happier, studies find” by Meredith Engel on New York Daily News on Aug. 27, 2014.
The Power of Delaying Gratification” by Alex Lickerman, M.D. on Psychology Today on July 29, 2012.

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I'm a mom of 3 on a journey to feed my family nourishing foods. Personally, I believe that you can feed your family healthy, delicious meals without spending a fortune or slaving away in the kitchen.


  1. Just discovered your site on How To Live in the US. I enjoyed this post a lot. I am a big fan of delayed gratification. Growing up in a big family sort of does that to you. You wear a lot of hand me downs and wish for the shiny and the new. And when you finally get it, oh boy! Worth every minute of the wait. And you appreciate it all the more.

    The video didn’t work for me, something about being removed by youtube.

    Thanks for a terrific post!
    Laura Beth recently posted…Who Stole Your Joy?My Profile

    • Hi Laura! Thanks for stopping by.

      I am really with you. I had a large family and I was number 5, so I practically had everything hand-me-down. I couldn’t wait to finally get new clothes when I got some babysitting money as a teenager. For me, the greatest excitement happened when we finally got a newer vehicle when I was learning how to drive. My parents had a VW Vanagon from the 80s and it wasn’t my ideal mode of transportation to pick up my friends, ya know? 🙂

      Thanks for letting me know about the video. I’ll just change it to a link so anyone can go to YouTube to watch it.

      Glad to see a new face around here!

  2. The hubby made a Costco list over the weekend and I used delayed gratification to go shopping. Lol! May not seem like a great delayed gratification but I was able to hold onto our money just a little bit longer;0) We even discovered a few more things we needed and saved an extra trip!

    • Hahaha! Hey, that is definitely delayed gratification, and it’s great you could save yourself a trip. Think of all the money you could save if you did that every other time you wanted to go to Costco!! Ha!

  3. I loved this reminder, too often it’s so simple to whip out the card to get something that catches your eye that it doesn’t become special. I have been teaching my kids to save for what they want while I haven’t been modeling that, shame on me. Thank you for the reminder.
    Cara @ Fashionably Frugal recently posted…Financial advice from a frugal fatherMy Profile


  1. […] putting off the purchase until I can sell something to get the money to buy it, I am delaying gratification and making sure that it is a purchase that I really want to […]

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