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Want it now? It may cost you

Could a need for instant gratification be costing you money? Re-train your mind and learn ways to play the long game with your finances.

According to new research by HSBC1, nearly half of UK adults (49%) say the modern world has made them develop a ‘want it now’ attitude and almost 2 in 5 (38%) confess to feeling impatient in life.

Slow walkers, public transport delays and having to wait for the internet to load were among the top factors likely to ignite our impatience.

How instant gratification works

When we go for instant gratification, we get a hit of dopamine, a chemical in our brains associated with short-term reward. When it comes to finances, this can often mean buying things we don’t need.

Social media, online shopping and fear of missing out have all encouraged our brains to rewire, so instant gratification becomes an everyday way of life.

But you can train yourself to delay that gratification to reap longer-term rewards. And this relates to all parts of life, including your finances.

That’s why we’ve partnered with psychologist Jo Hemmings – to give you tips to overcome short-term thinking and take control of your longer-term finances.

Jo Hemmings’ 5 top tips for training your mind

1. Resist temptation

The ability to resist temptation and stick to our long-term goals is often referred to as willpower or self-control. Delaying gratification is a central part of this behaviour.

Practicing self-control enables us, like any skill, to get better at it and studies have shown that people who do manage to control their behaviour are happier both in the short and the long term.

2. Write down goals and break them down into smaller goals

This way you’re protecting yourself from instant gratification by making some decisions for yourself beforehand. This is very useful when trying to hit financial goals, such as saving to buy a house, or a wedding.

3. Actions have consequences

Remind yourself of these. Just like self-control can help you achieve your goals and improve your physical and mental health, a lack of self-control can have adverse effects on your self-esteem, education, career, finances, relationships and overall health and wellbeing.

4. Set realistic deadlines

Work out what you can definitely afford, without unrealistic sacrifices that you may not be able to keep to. Perhaps look at a few extras that you can do without, and you’re much more likely to succeed.

5. Celebrate small gains

While you don’t want to be extravagant with your hard saved cash, when you hit some of those smaller goals – like saving to a figure that ends in a couple of 00s, for example – treat yourself to an evening out or a small ‘gift’.

What ‘want it now’ means for your money

It’s easy to focus on what we want now and worry about the future later. Because while most of us have goals for the future, it can seem a long way off.

The study found that 4 in 10 people admit to spending more money to get what they want faster, rather than waiting and making savings that could add up over time.

And despite saving an average of £1,279 over the last year – likely boosted by lockdown – 2 in 5 (38%) adults aged 18 to 34 have never considered investing it. Almost 1 in 5 (19%) say the time it takes to see returns would put them off investing.

So, our need for instant gratification is hampering our ability to plan for our financial future – whether that’s short-term goals such as saving for a holiday, medium-term goals such as buying a home or long-term goals like planning for a comfortable retirement.

How to play the long game with your finances

Investing is an alternative way to save for your future that could potentially give higher long-term growth than leaving your money in a savings account. And with HSBC, you can start investing from just £50 a month. Eligibility criteria and fees apply.

With investing, there’s always a chance you might not get back what you put in. Your expected returns can fluctuate and aren’t guaranteed. This is why you should aim to invest for 5 years or more. A longer timeframe gives your investment more time to recover from any market dips.

However, your money’s not locked away – you can access it at any time. Although, you should plan to leave your investment untouched to give it the best chance to grow.

What should you invest in? Funds are an easy place to start as they’re managed on your behalf. We offer 2 ways to invest in funds – you can either choose your own fund or we can recommend one for you.

Find out more on our new to investing page.

 

1Survey commissioned by OnePoll. Sample size was 2,000 UK adults ranging from 18 to 55+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11 to 14 June 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).