As a baby when you cried, your mother or father came running to take care of you. As a toddler when you cried, your parents hugged or talked to you until you stopped. As a teenager when you wanted something, you talked really nice and sweet to your parents to get it. Throughout your life, you may have received gratification instantly. So as an adult, it is only natural for you to believe that you should continue to receive this treatment. Unfortunately, this attitude affects every aspect of your life, even your spending habits.
It can be difficult to resist the temptation of the instant gratification culture of America, which I call the “instant grati factor.” Advertisers make consumers believe everything can be obtained instantly by creating instant cereal, instant coffee, instant meals, instant messaging, instant credit card approval and online shopping. I have labeled this behavior as the “instant gratification syndrome” or “instant grati syndrome.” To determine if you are a victim of “instant grati syndrome,” ask yourself the following questions:
- If you see an item online or in the store, do you buy it immediately?
- Do you buy an item even if you don’t need the item or the item is not in your size?
- Do you buy an item with your credit card even though you know you don’t have the money to pay the bill when it arrives?
- Do you get upset or defensive when someone questions your poor spending habits?
- Do you rationalize your poor spending habits by saying things like “I work hard. I deserve it”, “Why can’t I have it?”, “You are not my father. I can buy whatever I want”, “I just had to have it”, “I don’t have to answer to you”, “I want it now”, or “I can buy it with my credit card”?
- Is your home filled with unused items you purchased or items that still have the tags on them?
- Do you go shopping with money already set aside to pay a bill?
- Do you hide items you have purchased from your spouse, children, or significant other?
- Do you buy a new outfit every time you go to an event or gathering?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are a victim of the “instant grati syndrome.” Here are 6 ways to avoid the “Instant Grati Syndrome”:
- Make being debt free your ultimate goal.
- Stop listening to the instant gratification messages.
- Live your life like an investor.
- Surround yourself with people who are investors or people who are in a better financial situation.
- Enjoy the little things in life.
- Stop being depressed.
This behavior is difficult to change, but it can be changed. Don’t buy on impulse – think before you buy, and determine if the item is a want or a need. Embrace the old values of working hard and saving your money to buy something. So, the next time you buy something with a credit card, ask yourself, am I a victim of the “instant grati” syndrome?