How the have-it-now mindset sabotages your long-term finances

Humans are naturally hardwired to seek instant gratification – it’s an evolutionary instinct which ensured our survival. However, these days, this impulse is not doing us any favours when it comes to shopping – in fact, the have-it-now mindset is sabotaging our long-term financial wellbeing.

We’re living in a fast-paced ‘have it now’ reality

For those of you old enough to remember the internet in its infancy, you’ll remember how annoying the wait was to get a dial-up internet connection, but there was nothing we could do about it! These days, everything we want comes to us at a lightning-fast speed: we can stream movies, download music and even books immediately (no having to go down to the video store on a cold winter’s night to hire the latest blockbuster!). 

We’re living in a ‘have it now’ reality, a culture of consumption, and it doesn’t help that retailers make it even easier to succumb to temptation by offering same-day delivery, alternative payment methods and one-tap shopping. No more saving up for a rainy day anymore …

Learning to say ‘no’

Have you ever tried quitting sugar? To start with, it’s hard saying ‘no’ to the cravings, but it gets easier with time. And you do it because it’s beneficial for your long-term health. Well, kicking your need for instant gratification is a little like that. Like sugar, giving in to the urge at the time feels great, but you know it’s not doing you (or your finances) any good.

Embrace a delayed gratification mindset and try the ‘30 day rule’ – if you see something you want, don’t purchase it – instead, wait for 30 days. After that time, think about whether your need to have this item is as strong as it was 30 days ago (chances are, it’s not). 

The more you say ‘no’, the easier it becomes.

Have a long-term financial goal

They say that nothing worthwhile in life comes easily, and that sacrifices are often required to achieve a long-term goal. 

The key is to set yourself some financial goals to work towards. For example, you may want to put some money away for your first home or create a goal-based savings account. When you focus on that longer-term goal, making smaller sacrifices in the here-and-now are easier to do because there’s something better for you later.

The easiest way to achieve financial goals is to set yourself a budget and stick to it. Know where your money is going and how it’s being spent. According to a study by UBank, a staggering 86% of Australians don’t know how much money they are spending each month.

With a clear long-term financial vision and a budget to set you on the right path, it’s easier to resist the short-term impulses.

Tips to help you

  • Keep a separate savings and everyday spending account, and don’t touch the money in your savings for online shopping
  • Pay your ‘future-self' first – set up an automatic transfer each pay to your savings account. 
  • Embrace a delayed gratification mindset and try the ‘30 day rule’
  • Set yourself some financials goals – have a clear vision of how you see yourself living in the future
  • Ask yourself when you’re tempted to buy something: will buying this item help you reach your financial goals (probably not)? Do you really need it?
  • As much as possible, avoid buy now, pay later services
  • Recognise your emotional triggers for shopping (it could be stress or boredom, for example) and practice saying ‘no’ when you feel the urge for something shiny and new

The information on this page has been issued by Maritime Financial Services Pty Limited (MFS). It contains general information that doesn’t take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It’s important to consider how appropriate this general information is in relation to your situation before making an investment decision. We recommend that you seek financial advice before making any decisions regarding your super or investments. The information on this page is current at the time of publishing.