I have become something of an expert at delaying gratification––partly because I don’t have a lot of disposable income and partly because I was in trouble with money at one time in my life and I never want to go there again.

So now I don’t give in to my urges as quickly as I used to. I pause, think about what I want to buy, whether a fruit smoothie on a hot day or a new outfit for a special occasion, and choose to make the purchase when I feel peaceful about it.

To strengthen this habit I write down in a small notebook, which I carry in my purse, the money I spend with cash, check, or debit card. At the end of each week I transfer those numbers to the appropriate category in my expenditures file on my computer, i.e., groceries, fuel, medical appointments, restaurant meals, car wash, clothing, and so on. This one small task has changed my relationship with money.

I’m now aware of what I earn and spend, save, and give away and more thoughtful about what I purchase. But best of all I’ve gained insight into my emotions and moods and how I’ve used money in the past, and sometimes in the present, to cope with discomfort or fear. How about you?

Something to try:  Window shop to your heart’s content, browse stores, boutiques, and flea markets, take notes, and then go home and see where you stand. Do you still want such and such item or can you do without it? Would having it add measurably to your life? If so, then go for it. If not, enjoy the memory of it and move on, grateful to have avoided buying something that would give only temporary pleasure and satisfaction—and likely end up in the discard pile a year from now.


I will listen to what God the LORD will say . . . Psalm 85:8

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

St. Augustine

Quick Tip:

Walk through your favorite store without purchasing one thing. Enjoy the sights, sounds, and fragrances for what they are.








Delayed Gratification — 12 Comments

  1. Dear Karen,
    It took me a while to understand your perspective but it did ‘sink in’ and I understand the value of your words. Thank you for this insight. I had a different perspective when I read the title “Delayed Gratification”.I thought of the times when I have been soooo blest and have failed to realize just how blest I am until “later” and then I thank God for all the things I have failed to thank Him for in the past. I look back over my life and “wonder” if I really have enjoyed it as much as I COULD HAVE !! I thoroughly enjoy it now and enjoy remembering all the wonderful times I have had–this is ‘delayed gratification’ also.
    We were so poor financially I guess I never did get too spoiled with ‘shopping’ as we could not afford it! Smile!! Mom made all of my clothes and I did appreciate them as she did a great job but I have to admit I “delayed my gratification” by telling her over and over after I was grown how much I did appreciate her and the great clothes she made for me. Even tho we were poor financially we were rich with love! Better late than never so now I try to not delay too long to tell someone how much I appreciate them and their actions whether to me or their actions of goodness to others. Love to you, margaret

    • Thanks for your memories and experience, Margaret. I love hearing your perspective on things.

  2. Karen the topic of your article is close to my heart.Thank you for always sharing from your heart so that you light the dark pathways for your readers. You are such a gift to humanity. Thank you again.

  3. Restraint seems to be a word I hear allot in this brain that I carry around with me. The only scripture that comes to mind for myself is “a fool and his money is soon parted.” I have had my share of fool moment’s. Lol.

    • YES, Jim. I’ve had fool’s moments too but now I avoid them by stopping and considering before I make a choice or decision.

  4. Dear Karen,

    What an important message this is. I wish the morally-starved kids in America’s public school system can get a chance to benefit from your teaching and wisdom. And the Congress politicians that are in charge of tax payers hard-earned money should all take a class from you – How To Be Fiscally Responsible by Adopting the Virtue of Delayed Gratification.

    You’re a treasure to the nation.

    • No worries, Jing. I was able to delete the duplicate comments. Thank you for your kind words.

  5. Karen, does being almost 87 years old excuse you for thinking of one word while reading another?? I have had to laugh at myself!!
    While reading “gratification” I kept thinking of “gratitude” ! My comment was certainly about gratitude and not the gratification you so beautifully described! I relate to the “delayed gratification” also as it makes me very happy to NOT yield to the temptaion of buying something I really do not need ! As Ann Landers used to say: “give me ten lashes on the wet noodle” !! Karen, you’re the best! Margaret

  6. Karen, I like your process of window shopping, then waiting to see if you feel peaceful about, and still interested in, buying something. So often I have purchased something on the spur of the moment, rarely or never to use it. Good words to live by.

    • Thanks, Carol. I notice as I’m getting older that ‘stuff’ is less important to me and wonderful experiences with Charles and others mean the most. So I’ve become more and more of a window shopper! 🙂

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