Much of personal finance is really quite simple. Earn money. Spend less than you earn. Save the extra. However, mastering these seemingly easy concepts is difficult for many people. You know you should set a budget, but it seems so complicated and limiting that you never quite sit down to do it. You have a budget, but this month there are extraneous costs (i.e., health, new outfit, opportunity, fill in the blank) that have you once again breaking your budget barriers. Now that you have all of this money left at the end of the month (earmarked for savings), why not buy just one more thing you’ve had your eyes on?
Well, here is another very simple concept that many of you may struggle with, but is truly the secret to most frugal purchases: patience. Turns out, patience is not only a virtue, but a cost-saver as well. Anytime you add speed, convenience, or instantaneous gratification to a purchase, from houses down to toothpaste, you add cost. This works several ways, and we’ll discuss each separately.
The first way that patience pays off is by not “needing” things right away. If you can take most of the urgency out of the equation, you can wait for sales and gift-receiving opportunities to get them at a discount. For example, I “need” a new digital camera. I am fortunate because Paul has one that I have been borrowing, which allows me to take most of the urgency out of my need. Now I can afford to wait until either a great sale comes up that I can combine with a coupon in order to receive a great discount on the camera, or for my birthday/Christmas to ask for this gift if someone is looking for something specific to purchase for me (don’t worry, this isn’t a plea!).
Secondly, if you do not need something urgently, then you have the chance to save up money for it. This will save you interest charges and a possible headache down the road by not going into debt for a purchase. Sometimes while waiting and saving, you may even find that you lose interest or do not need the product afterall, thus saving you from making an unnecessary purchase all together.
Finally, many products offer the same end result, but at varying speeds. For instance, while wrinkles are inevitable for everyone (and if you don’t believe this, than perhaps you have been deluded by wrinkle-free cream commercials), there are ways to mitigate them. You can diligently and consistently take care of your skin your entire life by cleaning, moisturizing, wearing sunscreen or a hat in the sunshine, and eating a diet rich in antioxidants. Technically, this would be the long method, and the least expensive. At the other end of the spectrum would be having plastic surgery to remove wrinkles or costly botox treatments. This would be the fastest, and therefore most expensive, method. To further illustrate this concept, take a look at the chart below for a comparison of costs between products that all have the same end result, but offer it at varying speeds.
|Product||Low Speed||Enhanced Speed||Instantaneous|
|Teeth Whitening||Whitening Toothpaste: $2.99||Whitening Strips: $40.00 (per month)||Laser Whitening: $400-$900|
|Tanning||Natural Sunshine: Free||At-home Sprays/Lotions: $6.00-$20.00||Tanning Bed Visit: $25-$35|
|Pizza Dough||Homemade: $0.58||Ready-Made Crust: $4.00||Pizza Delivered: $12-$17|
|Movie||Network television debut: $0||Rent it: $4-$5||See it in the Movie Theater: $9.00 per ticket|
|Develop Digital Photos||In Days: $0.15 per photo||In an Hour: $0.19 per photo||Instantly: $0.29 per photo|
As you can see, having patience can save you money in every consumer sector. While it seems like an incredibly simple concept, learning to have patience may take some time (that’s right; learning patience may take some patience!). Try it out on your next gotta-have purchase that you can practically do without, and see how much money you can save.