This post is a follow-up to Dietary Depression, Death and Debt. It is the third in a four-part series (pt. 1, pt.2 ) examining ways to change behavior and not just give in to the trap of instant gratification.
We’re buying ourselves into debt and eating ourselves into the grave because we’re addicted to instant gratification. It’s unsustainable and unhealthy, so what can we do about changing behavior?
At its core, instant gratification is reactive. We see or want something and without saving up, planning ahead, or weighing the consequences, instantly react and buy or consume it. Therefore, being proactive and reasoned with our money is the opposite of instant gratification. As we try to change behavior, it makes sense to examine what some of the best thinkers, writers, and leaders have to say on the issue of being proactive and reasoned with money rather than reactive.
Solomon, ladies man, King of Israel, reputed wisest man who ever lived:
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. (source)
A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart. (source)
Ben Franklin, ladies man, kite-flying genius, one of the Founding Fathers:
So much for Industry, my Friends, and Attention to one’s own Business; but to these we must add Frugality, if we would make our Industry more certainly successful. A Man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, keep his Nose all his Life to the Grindstone, and die not worth a Groat at last. A fat Kitchen makes a lean Will, as Poor Richard says; and, Many Estates are spent in the Getting, Since Women for Tea forsook Spinning and Knitting, And Men for Punch forsook Hewing and Splitting. If you would be wealthy, says he, in another Almanack, think of Saving as well as of Getting: The Indies have not made Spain rich, because her Outgoes are greater than her Incomes. Away then with your expensive Follies, and you will not have so much Cause to complain of hard Times, heavy Taxes, and chargeable Families. (source)
Will Smith, The Fresh Prince:
Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like. (source)
John Kenneth Galbraith, economist, too tall to join the Army:
As life closes in on someone who has borrowed far too much money on the strength of far too little income, there are no fire escapes. (source)
A reasoned approach to utilizing money wisely then is to put in hard work to earn it, don’t make money our end goal in life, avoid debt, and save up. Following those basic steps is a perfect way to avoid the waste of instant gratification because it puts the proper value on money. We need money to live, but it takes our sweat equity to earn, so it makes sense to save up for things we value rather than blow our cash on impulse buys that will leave us needing to work even harder to get out of the hole.