Delayed Gratification: The Key to Financial Success

The first item I bought with my own money was a little wooden barn for my toy horses. It had sliding stall doors, a hay loft, and a mini-chest to put tiny plastic saddles in.  

I became smitten with the barn after spying it at a local toy store and diligently saved my allowance for months. I did extra chores around the house to add to my savings. I counted pennies. I was probably 10 years old.  

When I had finally saved enough money, I proudly purchased the barn. It was displayed in my room from that day forward and became a prized possession of my childhood. A couple of decades later, it is still stored on a shelf somewhere in my parent’s basement (sorry, Mom). 

The unspoken part of this story is that my parents could have afforded to purchase that barn the very first day I saw it. As far as toys go, it was a “big-ticket” item, but it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility for them to buy right away. But in letting me work towards saving the money on my own, my parents taught me an incredibly valuable lesson: delayed gratification.

Simply stated, delayed gratification is the key to financial success. Being able to weigh the consequences of every dollar spent and understand the impact of debt on long-term goals is imperative to gaining financial independence. 

One of the biggest misperceptions in life is that everyone thinks other people are better off than they actually are – a keeping-up-with-the Joneses mentality. As a result, many individuals fall victim to impulse purchases and consumer debt. Too often, our society focuses on fulfilling an instant desire and therefore fails to see the long-term effects of unnecessary spending.  

However, true financial impendence – and the feeling of satisfaction that comes along with it – is only possible with patience and hard work. 

Think about baking. What tastes better: a homemade cake or a pre-packaged snack in a plastic wrapper? I guarantee the homemade version will taste better, and you will have the fulfilment of knowing you made it yourself. 

Success usually comes down to making the conscious decision to choose the path of discipline and diligence over the ease of instant fulfillment. You put aside money now, so you can spend it later. 

But just because you don’t spend frivolously isn’t enough. You must also do the right things. Set aside money in buckets (for short- and long-term goals). Max fund your 401k and IRA. Work with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNING Professional™ to build a financial plan and stick to the path.

I had a beautiful childhood and was admittedly probably a little spoiled in the number of toys and stuffed animals that filled my room. But what made my barn so special is that I dreamed about it and worked for it and, when the time came, I knew there was nothing in the world that I wanted more.

At Pathfinder Wealth Consulting, that’s how we want you to see your retirement years. We will help you build a financial plan that considers all your goals and dreams, and we will guide you forward as you work to achieve them. And when financial independence is achieved, we know how sweet the reward will be for you. 

If you are ready to practice patience and get started on the path towards financial independence, please give us a call at (910) 793-0616 or visit our website at for more information.

Katie Henderson is Marketing Director for Pathfinder Wealth Consulting, an independent financial planning and investment management firm in Wilmington. 

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