A Lesson on Delayed Gratification

One of my favorite parts of working with clients is that over the years I’ve heard some really neat stories as to how clients have imparted their financial wisdom on others. One of my favorite stories is this one about a Grandma and her grandkids:

Mary Ann was neither rich nor poor. She lived a simple lifestyle with her basic living expenses being taken care of. Like many who’ve lived a full life, the one thing Mary Ann really wanted more than anything else was to spend time with her grand kids, Tommy and Becky.

Tommy and Becky enjoyed spending time with Grandma now, but Mary Ann feared that when they grew older, it would be more and more difficult to keep their attention. This was especially true because she didn’t follow in the latest and greatest trends.

Like most other kids, Tommy and Becky enjoyed playing video games, surfing the net, and watching TV. Mary Ann couldn’t accommodate any of these needs. She didn’t even have cable, let alone internet.

One day, while helping Tommy with a school project, Mary Ann had an idea. They were going to plan a trip. Wishing to show Tommy and Becky how to plan and save for a trip, Mary Ann told them that she would take them to any place in Michigan they wanted, when they turned 8 and 7 years old. Being that Tommy and Becky were only 6 and 5, they had a couple years to plan and save for their trip.

Grandma saved. Tommy saved. Becky saved. Each weekend at Grandma’s house, they would visit the library or pull out the encyclopedias, and research different places in Michigan. From Holland to Tahquamenon Falls, they sought the absolute best place to vacation. Both Tommy and Becky saved half their allowances in order to have spending money for their trip. Then it happened. They went to Sault Ste. Marie, the oldest European settlement in the US Midwest . They watched the boats travel the Soo Locks and went to Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. They had a grand time.

After that, Mary Ann decided that she wanted to teach her grandkids another lesson: Dream Big!. This time, when they turned 12 and 11, she was going to take them anywhere they wanted to go in the whole United States. Imagine their excitement when they finally saw the Grand Canyon in all its majesty. At 17 and 16 Tommy and Becky visited Paris. They paid for much of their own trip, and before becoming adults, they could say they were world travelers.

All this was possible because someone wanted to teach them the lesson of delayed gratification. As you can imagine, it gave Mary Ann plenty of time with her grandkids. It also taught them that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun because researching the different places to visit was almost as fun as going there. But learning to save over the course of several years taught them a skill they’ll carry throughout their lifetime.

The truth is that it doesn’t have to be your kids or grandkids. Many of us have nieces and nephews, and even friends that struggle with money. They simply don’t understand that in order for you to have success with money, you have to sacrifice today for tomorrow. And sometimes, that sacrifice is fun.

Share, or live this story with someone you care about. I know I will.

About the author

Richard T. Feight, CFP®

Among independent financial advisors, Mr. Feight is one of the most well known and highly respected “Fee-Only” financial planners. Since 1997, Rich has dedicated his career to offering low cost “Fee-Only” comprehensive financial planning and investment advice. Rich assists his clients in organizing their finances so that they can retire on time.Rich is a graduate of Michigan State University where he received his degree in Finance. Rich has earned the Certificate of Financial Planning from The College for Financial Planning in Denver , Colorado that was comprised of intense graduate level classes grounding him in the various foundations of financial planning. He is a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner®) since 2001, meeting the experience, education requirements and passing the two-day, 10 hour exam, making him one of the few in the country who hold the designation. Since 2003, Rich has subscribed to the stringent and mandatory annual educational hours, experience, and code of ethics to meet the requirements to be a NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor. Out of the 800,000 individuals in the country who claim they are financial advisors/planners, fewer than 1,300 in the country qualify for the membership; Rich is one of them.

Rich is the President of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) of Michigan . The FPA of Michigan is one of largest and influential chapter in the country. Rich was recently named President for Transportation Toastmasters Club 4776 downtown Lansing . He has been quoted in both local and national media from Noise Magazine to CNBC, and Bloomberg, and industry news publications such as Investment News and Financial Advisor Magazine. Rich enjoys public speaking and has spoke at industry educational meeting, high schools, and executive investment clubs, AARP conferences, and business educational seminars for companies looking to educate their employees. Rich views his role as a Fiduciary for his clients as the single biggest key to any planning relationship and strives to provide the most competent, unbiased and objective advice in the financial planning profession today.

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