Delayed Gratification

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This article originally appeared in our monthly newsletter, Fiscal Therapy.
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What I’m Pondering: Delayed Gratification

How are my actions and spending inconsistent with my values? Where do I need to push back against my impulse for immediate gratification? This visual by Carl Richards of Behavior Gap captures the disconnect between our spending and our values.


What I’m Watching: Brooklyn

I recently watched (and very much enjoyed) this Oscar-nominated film and was struck by the idea of delayed gratification and the enormous gap between life in 1950s New York and today. Travel, communication, errands - all of it drastically slower than today. Our ability to immediately gratify our needs and wants can’t help but impact the way we view and use our money.


What I’m Reading: Bad Habits? My Future Self Will Deal With That

New York Times, by Alina Tugend

Why do we struggle to do the things we want to do and know we should do: save more, spend less, give more? As this article points out, we struggle to identify with our future self. Here the author discusses the neurological basis for the disconnect between us and our future selves:

Brain scans … have shown that there are regions of the brain that activate when we think about other people, and other regions that activate when we think about ourselves.
In cases where people don’t feel much connection to their future selves, the areas of the brain that light up when they are asked to think about themselves in the future are — guess what? — the same ones as when they think about other people.

Interesting, right? We see our future self as a different person which makes it easier to choose short-term wants over long-term needs and wants. I’ve always been a fan of goal setting and think this is one way we resolve the disconnect between values and behaviors. When I have a clear goal for my future in mind it’s a lot easier to keep myself accountable, delay gratification, and make spending choices today that are in line with that goal.