You can call this one of the laws of life, we reap what we sow. If we sow eating junk food, we reap health problems. If we sow a life devoid of physical activity, we reap an unhealthy body. If we sow careless and wasteful spending, we reap a life of debt. All of us have experienced the consequences of sowing bad choices. I certainly have had my fair share of them. I’ve made some hasty purchases where I felt I absolutely have to have a certain item only to have it gather dust or get stored away to be forgotten. We also can be influenced by others because of what they have or own which makes us envious or feel like we need to have what they have without seriously considering our financial situation and what is sustainable. In a society and age of instant gratification and trying to “one-up” each other, have we stopped to think of the consequences of such behavior? Have we stopped to think about what we are reaping? I feel like we are missing out on what life has to offer if we forget about delayed gratification. This can be applied to all facets of life but for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to focus on personal finance.
Temptations for instant gratification are everywhere. I receive numerous mail advertisements from credit card companies wanting me to sign up for more credit cards. Some even offer to provide 0% interest on purchases for a year in hopes of getting people to sign up; not to mention the tons of credit card emails that get sent to my inbox. Now, I’m not saying buying stuff in itself is a bad thing but how does the stuff I buy align with my financial goals and my values? How do they align with yours? I’ll use the example of the holidays, this especially can be tough when spending is at an all-time high. If there are no savings for the gifts, then most likely you would have to use your credit card to pay for the purchases. Things get busy during the holidays and you forget to pay your credit card bill or you can’t pay the total balance. If this happens, there will most likely be a late fee along with the interest rate penalty kicking it; which can be as high as 29.99% according to credit karma. Your credit score could be affected. If you continue to be delinquent, creditors will start calling. Often times they can be very aggressive. This will add more stress and anxiety than you already have. It might take you a while to pay off the credit cards and then the cycle starts all over again for next year’s holiday.
I’ve cast a negative tone on sowing and reaping but the opposite effect can be true as well. What if you started saving for the holidays starting in January? What if you started setting aside money each month to fund a holiday fund? You will set a healthy limit on what you can or cannot spend. The worry and stress of the holiday gift buying frenzy will be less because you set aside the money for it. You don’t have to worry about your credit score being affected negatively, you don’t have to worry about paying the late fee and interest rate penalty, and best of all you don’t have to worry about those pesky creditors calling you asking for your money. It will be tough not being able to spend as much during the year because of putting money into the holiday fund (delayed gratification) but the peace of mind of having the funds there when the holidays come is priceless. So what small steps can you start doing today to sow something more beneficial for your personal finances?