Wednesday, May 28, 2008

At the Moment, Instant Gratification is Fun!

Originally uploaded by snjezana.

Our entire culture is very impulsive. We've been geared to think that if you want something, you have the option to get it... right now. Instant gratification is fun. Responsibilities are boring. Why are we starting to see the onset of possible economic trouble as a nation? By and large it's because of impulsive behavior (IMHO) in our spending.

By and large popular culture encourages it. By their example governmental leadership embodies it. For the most part families do not discourage it.

"If you'll live like no one else, later you can live like no one else." ~ Dave Ramsey

I keep hearing people talk about the poor economy. I'm not talking about on television, but just as I go about life meeting and talking with people. This person and that person complains that things seem to be getting more difficult. I'm not going to doubt their personal situation. It may be very difficult. I think we all feel the squeeze in our pocket book when it comes to present day fuel prices. However, why are we truly feeling the squeeze? Is it because of gas prices? Is it because of the government's out of control spending? Is it because of the bubble that burst in the housing market? Or is it because we just want things we don't really need?

Let me be clear. I am not trying to be preachy here. There was a time when I was very impulsive in my spending. Whatever I wanted I usually found a way to get it. No matter what bills may be coming up or what responsibilities I already had. I've tried to live like no one else... right now! It's not an easy life. Even in the best of times. In fact, I don't believe it is worth it.

Over the last few years I have slowly worked myself out of a hole I dug. I'm not out yet, and there's still work to be done, but I see that one day I will be. So here I am. Living in the same world as everyone else with these apparent hard times on the horizon, and yet I have never been better off (and that's not great, BTW). I'm learning a valuable lesson. One I think we could all stand to learn, especially in our culture of instant gratification. Spend less, save more, and when hard times come it will be easier to work through them.

It's a simple lesson our grandparents and great grandparents would probably have taught us, had we listened. Those old, worn out phrases like, "The best things come to those who wait" and, "A penny saved is a penny earned" suddenly don't seem so old and worn out do they? Instant gratification is entertaining, but responsible spending and saving has longer term rewards.