6 Ways Patience Pays

by Shawanda Greene

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One primary reason many people find themselves living paycheck to paycheck is there lack of patience. Once you get to the point where you’re willing to delay gratification, you’ll be able to accumulate wealth. Even after you start doing well financially, waiting for the things you desire can still pay off handsomely. Here I demonstrate six ways patience pays by sharing with you some of my own personal experiences.

Master the Silent Haggle

At the beginning of operation debt elimination, I canceled any subscription service I wasn’t using. Although my on-line subscription to Consumer Reports was only about $60 a year, I wasn’t using it enough to justify the cost. Given that I’d committed to changing my spending habits, I also didn’t see a need for a resource that assisted in the purchase decision making process for big ticket items.

Like many on-line subscription services, Consumer Reports was persistent. They’d frequently notify me via e-mail of discounts available to reinstate my subscription. I continued to give Consumer Reports the silent treatment until after a year had passed when they offered me the same service I had previously for an annual price of $19. That’s a savings of almost 70%. If I’m not mistaken, this was their best offer. Since I was in the market for a mattress, I jumped on it. Although I later learned that Consumer Reports doesn’t rate mattresses, I still found valuable information on the website that led to savings of hundreds of dollars.

I’m still waiting for Audible to come to their senses.

Hold Out for Recurring Deals

A while back I went to The Container Store to find solutions for the organization crisis that persists in my living space. At the check out counter, I asked the cashier if she had any coupons I could use immediately. I try to make a habit of asking for discounts at the point of sale. Sometimes this works. Although she didn’t have any coupons I could use, the cashier advised me to sign up to receive discounts and sale notifications via e-mail.

Still perturbed by the expiration of The Oprah Winfrey Show coupon I’d just missed out on, I signed up on their e-mail list. Then, I waited. When I received the June 30th e-mail about their featured appearance on Oprah, I knew a sweet discount was sure to follow. On July 1st, the coupon I’d been patiently awaiting arrived. Everything in the store was 25% off. At that point, I bought all the things I’d been putting off.

Realize You’re a Fickle, Emotional, Irrational Being

Sometimes you don’t have to wait for the price to drop or a discount to come available. You just have to wait until the consumption urge passes. While listening to the July 3, 2009 episode of Marketplace Money, I heard Robert Manning, author of Credit Card Nation: The Consequences of America’s Addiction to Credit, say something truly insightful about what this nation would be like if we didn’t have access to credit.

Forcing people to save and plan, and by the time they actually plan and save to purchase an item, they may decide that they really don’t need it. I mean, it will be a complete transformation of American society.

For instance, the Wii has been on my wish list since it was released for $250 in late 2006. Almost three years later, the Wii is priced at…um, $250. Let’s just ignore the fact that the price of the console hasn’t decreased. The important thing here is that in the last three years, there are countless items I’ve found more important than a $250 video game console.

Explore Your Options

As an information junkie, I was a frequent visitor of Barnes & Noble. I hung out at the bookstore so much, I still mistakenly refer to it as the library. If I purchased a book every time I went to Barnes & Noble, I’d be bankrupt. To compensate them for camping out on their premises, I’d buy something from the cafe every time I visited. Occasionally, I’d buy a book, at full retail no less. Not every book is short enough to read over a cup of coffee and a rice crispy treat. Not only did these books take a bite out of my bank account, but they also took up valuable space on my bookshelves. Bookshelves should be reserved for books you actually reference, read, or reasonably expect to read.

Since you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing you struggle with an irrepressible desire for information. I’ve saved loads of money by avoiding the bookstore altogether and reconnecting with the original library. Considering how many books I’ve read, started reading, or intended to read in the last year, I no doubt saved a ton of money using the resources provide by the library.

If I hear about a book I’d like to read, I go to my local library’s website to see if it’s available. If not, I’ll put the book on hold and wait for the e-mail notification that my book is ready for check out.

Information is everywhere. If I can’t get access to the book I want immediately, I usually just move on to something else. If I’m a little anxious, I’ll see if I can find the book used on Amazon. It’s not until I’m certifiably desperate that I’ll pay retail. There is a limit to how long I’m willing to wait. After finding out I was 14th in line for I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, I decided to scamper over to Barnes & Noble to buy it at *gasp* retail. In my defense, I did manage to scrounge up a 10% off coupon.

I have a friend who refuses to check out books from the library because she likes to highlight important information and make notes in the margin. I figure if a book is that good, I’ll just put it on my wish list and purchase it later.

Pause When The Unthinkable Happens

Last Friday night, my laptop power adapter finally burnt out. I noticed it began to malfunction over a month ago, but I decided to press my luck. There are certain things that I’m willing to give up, but barring the threat of starvation or homelessness, access to the internet is a nonnegotiable.

I was desperate to get my laptop up and running. So much so that I was willing to pay retail for an adapter. Right before I plopped down $110 to buy a universal adapter, I realized I could use my work laptop to perform a proper search for a replacement and hold me over until it arrived. Amazon.com turned up an adapter for a grand total of $23.93. My adapter should arrive some time this week.

Accept That You’re Imperfect

Be patient with yourself. If you’ve been making dumb financial decisions for a while, then it’s going to take some time to break those bad habits. Don’t give up on your dream of financial freedom when you suffer a relapse or two or three or four. You know the saying: “Old habits die hard.” You’re not so special that you’ll be able to turn things around in an instant, so be realistic. Either accept that it’s going to take some time to develop new money habits or accept a life of scratching and surviving. You decide.

Do you have any examples where exercising patience saved you money?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian July 14, 2009 at 8:41 AM

I really like this article. I have definitely done a few of these, especially when the cord for my iPhone broke and i needed a new one ASAP. Instead of spending the $30 the apple store wanted, i calmed down, bought two off of eBay ($2 each) and borrowed a friend’s cord for three days (he had a spare).


Carla July 14, 2009 at 12:55 PM

I never make impulse purchases. Even on seemingly small ticket items, I wait to see if this is something I really need (or at least really want). My s/0 has learned that lesson the hard way when it comes to buying cars. Just wait 6 months to a year and that same car will be thousands less.


Chitnis July 15, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Gr8 ideas .. I have never been a compulsory buyer actually my tactics are similar .I scan my need as do i need to have this or no . How badly do I need it and then only decide to buy ,after pros and cons of the product .
Thanks a lot for this gr8 post


Matthew | Polaris Rising July 16, 2009 at 12:23 AM

Some of this is moving away from the pushed identity of the “consumer”. You’re not an American simply because you buy.

I always wait in any major purchase unless it is a true emergency (e.g., the water heater’s burst). It always gives perspective.


Tia July 23, 2009 at 5:05 PM

Great article. Todd and I went to the library yesterday. Very inexpensive entertainment …as long as I remember to take the books back.


Nicole Draffen July 29, 2009 at 8:56 PM

This was a smack in the face for me! Thanks for the information, especially the last part about being patient with myself. I have to tell some people about this one.


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