Waiting is the best part: how anticipation can save you money

Instead of buying something right when you want it, Hamm suggests delaying your gratification. The result is more money in your pocket and a greater appreciation of the products you have.

Tim Wimborne/Reuters/File
People queue outside an Apple store as they wait to buy an iPhone 5, in central Sydney in this September 2012 file photo. You may be better off financially if you wait a bit before you buy that product you want, Hamm writes.

Several years ago, if I wanted something, I usually just went out and bought it. If I wanted to go on a trip, I just went on that trip.

As long as I had the money in hand (or the credit on my credit card), whatever it was that I wanted quickly became mine, in short order.

Today, I still buy things that I want to buy, and I still travel if I want to travel. The difference is that I don’t do it immediately.

There are a lot of reasons for this change, but the biggest is that anticipation is often the best part

Several years ago, when I’d buy something, I’d immediately have the item to enjoy. I’d read it or play it or eat it – and then, before long, it would be over. The meal would be consumed. The book would be finished. The video game would be beaten. The new gadget would be an ordinary part of my life. The trip would be over.

And then there would be something new to desire.

Today, I’ll decide to buy something, but I’ll do it under the assumption that I won’t buy it for a while.

I’ll wait until Friday to go out for lunch with some of the other writers I know.

I’ll wait until I’m finished with the two books on my bookshelf before buying that new one.

I’ll wait until November to go visit my family in Texas.

I’ll wait until the day before our New Years party to pick up that board game that would be perfect for the gang to play.

A few things happen because of that wait.

First, the anticipation is simply enjoyable. It gives me many things to look forward to in the future and it makes the oncoming months seem very promising and exciting.

Second, the anticipation also holds my focus. When I consider spending my money on something else, it’s easy to remind myself of the things I’m going to have in the near future. Why splurge on a book when I have those on the bookshelf and I’ve already given myself permission to pick up another one when those are finished? I can just eat leftovers today because I’ll enjoy lunch out with the other writers in a few days.

Because of that, I spend less money. Without that anticipation, it would be much easier for me to just drop my money on something without thinking about it too much. The anticipation increases my mindfulness.

Enjoy the anticipation. It pays off in the long run.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Waiting is the best part: how anticipation can save you money
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today