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Fiscal Discipline: It Means a Better Future

August 23rd, 2014 at 07:52 am

Children live in the present. At best they can project themselves into their short-term futures. But adults can hold the vision of a long-term reward in their mind's eye and control their present actions by being able to visualize and live mentally in that future.

Fiscally disciplined grown-ups choose meaningful long-term satisfaction over transitory instant gratification. Children cannot help themselves. They want that treat now. They must have that toy now. Future rewards for self-control hold no attraction for them. A frustrated desire in the present triggers emotional turmoil in a child that can easily lead to pouting, crying and tantrums.

Adults behave differently. They can keep their eyes focused on the more valuable goal ahead. They can keep their heads in the face of spur-of-the-moment temptations.

Imagining myself living in my house worked that way for me. And every debt-lowering payment and every savings account deposit reinforced that vision, making it easier and easier to stick to my financial plan. Until it just became second nature. No new shirt, gadget or night on the town could any longer compete with the emotional highs that came from each lowering of my credit card debt and each increase of my downpayment savings.

In effect, I was already happily living in my future through my fiscally disciplined actions in the present. Anticipated long-term satisfaction had won hands down over instant gratification, And I think that is the hallmark mindset of a fiscally disciplined adult.

The takeaway: The end-game reward for being fiscally disciplined now is to be in control of one's future. The reward, when all is said and done, IS the future.

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5 Responses to “Fiscal Discipline: It Means a Better Future”

  1. NJDebbie Says:

    Fiscal discipline has definitely helped us weather some situations such as a year long unemployment bout for my hubby as well as being able to put our children through college by cash flowing tuition. Although, I consider myself to be frugal and by no means a cheapskate, I love that we can sleep knowing that we don't owe anyone any money. That means everything to me!

  2. Buendia Says:

    Actually, a good way of predicting future success is the ability to delay gratification as a child. I don't think it's accurate that children want instant gratification. I do think those instant gratification children will probably turn out to be instant gratification adults.

  3. Retired To Win Says:

    NJDebbie Says:

    "Fiscal discipline has definitely helped us weather some situations such as a year long unemployment bout for my hubby as well as being able to put our children through college by cash flowing tuition. Although, I consider myself to be frugal and by no means a cheapskate, I love that we can sleep knowing that we don't owe anyone any money. That means everything to me!"


    It is one of the best feelings in the world, isn't it! Wink

  4. Retired To Win Says:

    Buendia Says:


    "Actually, a good way of predicting future success is the ability to delay gratification as a child. I don't think it's accurate that children want instant gratification. I do think those instant gratification children will probably turn out to be instant gratification adults."


    I admit, I was stretching the point a little. Call it poetic license. :O

    And I agree about instant gratification getting hardwired from childhood.

    Thanks for the insight.

  5. Buendia Says:

    Remember that marshmallow test? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment

    Results were amazing!
    "In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI) and other life measures."

    I'm ok with poetic license! It seems like most people want that instant gratification!

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