Have you ever found yourself attracted to the big red “SALE” at the department store?
And one hour later, you walk away with five paper bags of stuff you don’t really need and probably will never use – and several hundred dollars poorer!
Or did you promise yourself that you’ll start saving money this month, only to break that promise several days later because a charismatic salesperson presented you with an irresistible offer that is too good to pass up.
Well, that charismatic salesperson could be an actual salesperson at a store. But more often, that person is actually yourself.
You might see something that you really want but don’t really need, and you know that you won’t really use it anyway.
And despite your plans to save money, you end up buying things it on impulse or because you were swayed by your emotions (and you’ll probably end up regretting it days later).
Why do we do this? (Yes, almost no one is spared from this, even the person with the most self-control in the world)
Marketers, sales professionals and advertisers know about this fundamental human “flaw” in human psychology for a very long time.
And they have been exploiting it to sell more of their products and make you constantly buy things that you don’t need at all.
Greed is the Reason Why We Buy Things We Don’t Need
When I refer to things that we don’t need, I mean that it is not essential for basic survival.
Food is a basic necessity. However, dining at a Michelin starred restaurant is not. The first is a need, while the second is just a want.
We don’t want to admit that we are “greedy”, but deep inside, every single one of us is run by two very strong primary emotions – fear and greed.
Most of the time, fear can’t usually make us buy stuff (unless of course, you found out that you’re going to have a heart attack and need an emergency surgery).
Advertisers then tap into the second emotion – greed. And every one of us are susceptible because to some extent, all of us are driven by greed (that is, we want more than what we really need).
And greed can show itself in many forms:
- The fear of losing out
- Buying material goods to display your status
- Retail therapy – Buy stuff so that you can feel good
- Buying on impulse
- (and as you become more aware of yourself, you’ll start to catch the many ways that greed can present itself)
Delayed Gratification is the Best Way to Combat Greed
Greed is basically an emotion (i.e. you’re buying on emotion).
Your head tells you that this is a worthless expense, and you’re better off spending your money somewhere else. Buy your heart tells you that you just have to have this no matter what.
One of the best ways to combat this problem is to give time for your heart to calm down and for your head to take charge.
And the simple act of practicing delayed gratification turns out to be one of the best ways to do it.
It’s so simple, and yet it works so surprisingly well. All you need to do is to procrastinate (hey, who says procrastination is always a bad thing?).
The next time you’re about to spend money on something that you don’t really need (i.e. you won’t die or get into trouble with the law if you don’t do it immediately), commit to waiting at least 3 days before coming to a decision.
And the bigger the expense, the longer you should wait.
You’ll find that you’ll adopt a very different perspective on things after just a few days. You won’t have any urge to spend unnecessarily and you will be free from the crippling grip of your emotions.
One More Good Reason to Practice Delayed Gratification
When you practice this technique, you’ll find that in 8 out of 10 times, you don’t actually want the item as much anymore. This is great news!
This means that when you do really want to buy something, you’ll have enough money (the money you saved by not buying the other 8 items) to buy the best version of what you want.