Saving Money and the Fight Against Instant Gratification

Picture this: You’re sitting around a table at the bar with a group of friends, laughing, joking, and just generally having a good time. Suddenly you feel your phone vibrate in your pocket. You can tell by the notification that you just received a text message. Do you interrupt your ongoing conversations to check your phone?

Studies show that if you are under 34, the answer is more likely to be yes. Generation Y has been under scrutiny over the last few years, this time to examine the effects of growing up in an ever-connected society where nearly everything we want is instantly accessible. Movies are on-demand, we always up-to-date on the activities of our friends, and two-day delivery has become the norm.

But how often do you sit back and wonder whether all of this connectivity and instant gratification is negatively affecting your current habits and future self? If you haven’t gotten annoyed by a slow wireless connection or yelled at the phone after being put on hold for ten minutes, please leave now.

The thing is, this increasing trend of instant gratification runs counter-intuitive to many aspects of our lives. Take saving money as an example. Realistically, saving money is the very definition of delayed gratification. Taking money that could be used for any number of things in the present moment and putting it away for a future event has proven be a very challenging process for millions of millennials.

I too have a problem with saving as much as I would like each month, and it was not until recently that I began viewing this as an issue of instant vs. delayed gratification. I found a video (instantly loaded, of course) by featuring Jean Chatzky talking about this issue that I found to be incredibly eye-opening.

If you didn’t just watch the video, Jean talks about saving for specific goals, rather than just putting money into a more general slush fund. The next step is making each goal just a little more tangible – possibly through attaching a photo to each goal, or by naming your goal something very specific.

When I am able to clearly visualize the beaches I will be frolicking on during my Thai vacation, those new shoes staring me down from across the store seem less appealing.


At the risk of sounding like a salesperson, this is one way that using Money Clouds has helped me become more consistent in my savings habits. By setting goals that are customized to remind me of exactly why I am saving, I think about the end goal more often than I would have if just putting money into a savings account. I’m a very visual person, so this type of trigger is effective for me. I’ve also scheduled automatic savings transfers to each of my goals, so even if I were tempted by the shoes, the money has already been put toward my goal.

I still have a bad habit of checking my phone while out in public, but one step at a time, right?

Charlee Van Wagenen