DELAYED GRATIFICATION: Its importance in your life & Strategies to practice it - The Thrifty Pinay

“Great things come to those who wait.”

“Great things start from small beginnings.”

I started this post with these two simple but powerful quotes because these coincide with the title.

Delayed Gratification is a trait that a lot of successful people abide by. And I feel that a lot of millenials have foregone its significance and that’s one reason why I’m excited to share this post.

Delayed Gratification is something I have abided by ever since I was a kid which I have shared in my other post. Read more about it here:  ABOUT ME: THRIFTINESS AS A WAY OF LIFE

In a layman’s term, it simply is putting off something good now for something better later. It is sacrificing today’s short term pleasures for something that gives long term happiness in the future. In a realistic situation, it’s like giving up movie nights so the money saved can be used to put up a business, like giving up your mundane job now for a more rewarding and exciting one later.

Of course, in the middle of jumping from one phase to another lies your fear of change, getting out of our comfort zone, discipline and dealing with risks.

Moreover, the power of Delayed Gratification is an essential ingredient of being able to attain your ultimate goal.  Whether it be saving now to spend later,  putting up with the hard yards of your job to help boost your career later or simply undergoing vigorous training to win a competition, these examples are where Delayed Gratification can bring tremendous returns while you develop your WILLPOWER.

Let’s explore Delayed Gratification more and learn why it is important in our lives!

The Stanford Marshmallow test

The power of Delayed gratification is best known from an experiment conducted by Professor Walter Mischel at Stanford University. Mischel studied a group of four to six-year-old children who were each given a marshmallow and left in a room for 15mins.

Mischel gave the children 2 choices:

-They can eat the marshmallow now OR

-They don’t eat the marshmallow now and wait after 15mins so they can have 2 marshmallows.

Some children were able to wait for 15mins for the additional marshmallow, while some ate the marshmallows right away.

Researchers continued to study these children until they were adolescents. They found out that the children who were able to delay gratification  (who waited for 15mins) were more successful, self-motivated, better adjusted, better at coping with stress and were more dependable persons. While the children who opted for the marshmallows at once were quite the opposite. Their study has shown that the characteristics have remained with them for life.

Why is delaying gratification important?  

All financial investors are strong believers of delaying gratification. Because for them, the path to your goals is not a sprint, but a marathon. Studies have proven that people who believe in delayed gratification for better returns lead more positive lives.

Delaying Gratification is not an inborn trait. It is a choice of the person, but quite a difficult choice. Avoiding temptation that’s right in front of you so you can hold out for something better but unguaranteed down the line- for some of us, that’s a losing battle.

But despite “losing the battle”, delaying gratification increases our willpower and ultimately helps you reach your goals faster. Below are some examples where delaying gratification can impact your life positively.

  • 1. Save now for something better later OR Spend now?

Your goal is to buy that dream car of yours. So what do you do? Save and save and save, right?  But sometimes, things are easier said than done. Everyday as you attempt to save money to get closer to your dream car, you are constantly challenged to spend your money:  coffee dates, movie dates, eating out, buying that beautiful dress on sale. Whenever you bring out your wallet, you are faced with all these temptations. Every time you spend on these temptations, it brings you a step further away from your dream car.

Many people are often surprised by how much they can save just by simply making smarter choices. Do you really needed to spend on monthly payments for your home cable when you’re often out of the house? Maybe you’re better off not paying for cable and just watch your favourite tv shows online.

  • 2. Spending to get to your goals faster

Now this is a different kind of spending. Yes, you will be spending to still delay gratification. Let’s say your goal is to have P500,000 in your savings account before you get married. To achieve this, your tool is to invest in the stock market. Before investing, you have to spend on books, seminars or trainings to get that full depth of understanding of how the stock market works. Next, you have to spend money for the initial balance you will use to open an account and start investing in the stock market.

Another example is when you open a business. Yes, you have to spend money on your start up capital. And since opening up a business entails being “hands on,” you sacrifice at the expense of sleepless nights,  gimmicks, health or relationships. You are spending to actually delay gratification that will get you so much faster to your goal.

Once you go through the hard yards and come out with a successful business, the rewards will be so much greater than you would have ever imagined.

  • 3. Eat the fries OR eat the apple?

Let’s say you’re hungry… you  probably are most of the time. When hunger pangs strike, sure enough the first thing you’d like to grab on to is something tasty – more like the sugary, fatty or salty foods (hello fries!) By delaying gratification ,by choosing the apple over fries, choosing water over softdrinks, you’ll reap the benefits of living a healthy life, having boosts of energy ,having less illnesses plus, you’ll realize that healthy foods bring instant gratification too!


  • 4. To exercise or not to exercise?

Similar to the one above, a lot of people do not realize the benefits of exercising. They feel that working out in the gym is more of an expense rather than an investment to keep up with your health.  Why not try the concept of Delayed Gratification for this one?  It doesn’t necessarily mean enrolling at a gym, but more of getting your ass off and sweating it out whether at home or taking zumba classes.  Indeed, health is wealth!

  • 5. To smoke or not to smoke?

Here’s another ultimate test of willpower.  Are you to smoke right now and get that instant gratifying “hit” feeling  that won’t last that long? Or give up smoking right now and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle when you’re older? Choose wisely.

  • 6. The path to your dream job

Here’s a different but interesting one. Depending on what your ultimate goal is, it’s up to you if you want to put up with difficult experiences first before being a master, or not. Like the saying goes, “ Every master was once a disaster.”


 Let’s say you would want to become a financial advisor. First you have to undergo numerous trainings and sets of exams for months to achieve this profession.  Considering the training venue is kilometers away from where you live, you have to sacrifice waking up early to beat the rush hour and sacrifice your night out rituals because you have to review for an upcoming exam.

As hard as it may be, it might just get you to that depth of understanding you need to be a master in your profession.

Now that you’re coupled with an understanding of how delayed gratification works along with enhancing your willpower, here are some strategies we can use to keep on practicing delayed gratification.

Strategies for delayed gratification

  1. a.  Know what ‘s important to you

If you can clearly identify what’s important to you, you will be able to make choices that will lead you to happiness and success.

“Clarity leads to power.”

  1. b. Know what you want to achieve

Identify your ultimate goal and make it  S.M.A.R.T  goals ( read more about SMART goals here: MONEY MANAGEMENT for beginners. 6 EASY TIPS TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY WISELY

Having a clear understanding of what you want in the long run will help you make the choices in delaying gratification to achieve your goals.

  1. c. Create a plan

“When you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”

Creating a plan to help you get to your goals will remind you to stick with delaying gratification no matter what circumstances you will encounter along the way.

  1. d. Avoid the temptation

With the marshmallow test mentioned earlier, some kids reportedly covered their eyes so that they won’t see the marshmallow. Are you itching to buy that new pair of Nike shoes?  Then distract yourself and avoid passing through that store. Who knows, if you wait a few weeks later, it might be up for sale and you can buy it at a cheaper price.

  1. e. Find satisfying alternatives

One child was reportedly licking the table around the marshmallow while waiting for the 15mins to pass. Funny though but what the child was doing is finding an alternative to satisfy his temptation.

If your friends invite you to watch a movie and have dinner, tell them you have to run a few errands and you’ll catch up for dessert instead.

  1. f. Eyes on the prize

Focus on the reward. Two marshmallows are definitely better than one.

Delaying gratification to achieve your goals can take days, week, months, years, or even decades. Patience builds character.  When you reach a milestone along the way, don’t forget to reward yourself. Not only will this keep you motivated, this will also remind you that delaying gratification is leading you to the right path.

  1. g. Pray

Pray, no matter what religion you are in.  Never underestimate the power of your devotional prayers. Seek knowledge and guidance, coupled with humility and action.

For the comments

Have you learned something from this post? I hope you did  😊What areas in your life to do you delay gratification? How about those you consider difficult to handle, you instantly want gratification? Do you have other strategies you can share?

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By Ameena Rey-Franc

Recognized as one of the Top Finance Blogs in the PH. Ameena Rey-Franc (founder of TTP) is a former Banker and BS Accountancy graduate turned Blogger, Keynote Speaker, and entrepreneur. Currently an RFP delegate, she is also the Author of a book about Financial Resilience and has held seminars for reputable companies like GrabFoodPH, Pru Life UK, VISA, JPMorgan Chase& Co., Paypal, Fundline, Moneymax, and many more. The Thrifty Pinay's mission is to empower women to LEARN, EARN, and be FINANCIALLY-INDEPENDENT no matter what life stage they are in.