You made it through Christmas and if you’re among the lucky ones, you did it without giving into the temptation to overspend. If that’s you, congratulations!
What you might not have expected, though, is that delaying gratification was easier when you were geared up for it. Once you let your guard down, suddenly that flat-screen television, jewelry or the costly vacation looks tempting.
Even if it is not that way for you now, chances are somewhere along your journey toward debt freedom you’re going to miss the way you did things before. That way was buying things because you had the credit to do it, as if that were the only justification you needed.
You have now entered the world of delayed gratification, and you might need some strategies to help you navigate your way through.
The most famous experiment illustrating delayed gratification was done by Stanford University’s Walter Mischel in the 1960s. He put a marshmallow in front of children and told each one if they waited long enough, he would bring them another. He tracked the lives of the kids and found those who waited on that first marshmallow test had higher SAT scores and fewer substance abuse problems later on.
While we cannot jump to too many conclusions based on that test, it paints a decent picture of what you are going through now. Even better are later studies that paid more attention to what children did to keep themselves from eating that first marshmallow.
So, here are a few ideas you might consider as you negotiate your way to debt freedom.
Don’t feel bad that your quest for a debt-free life feels difficult sometimes. You are changing your life. That can feel hard. But instead of giving in, find ways to meet your challenge head on. An American Financial Solutions credit counselor can help you come up with ideas to keep you on track so that you feel the same joy as those kids who got the second marshmallow.