Sleep On It

Sleeping Piggy BankSleep is a wonderful thing. Not only does it improve our memory, fitness, intelligence and wellbeing, it can also make us financially better off.

The phrase ‘to sleep on it’ denotes the delaying of a decision until the next day. And I was urged by my wife to do just that recently – right as I was about to commit to a large financial purchase, which I had managed to convince myself was a necessity.

When I awoke the next day, however, it quickly became apparent to me that it was anything but. Thanks to the money I saved, taking the time to consider my purchasing decision turned out to be the equivalent of earning big bucks in my sleep.

This is part of a wider theme – one which was highlighted by the Marshmallow Experiment conducted by Stanford University in the 1960s, in which young children were offered a range of tempting treats, including marshmallows, from a tray. They were told they could have one treat straightaway or, if they were willing to wait approximately quarter of an hour, they could have two instead.

Scientists followed up the results over a decade later and compared them to the life progress of each participant. Amazingly, they noticed that those children who had chosen to delay gratification coped better with stress, were better at relationships, were healthier and did better academically than those who chose instant gratification.

As my own recent example shows, the relevance of delayed gratification goes way beyond marshmallows and holds true for any demographic.

So often, we are lead to believe that the path to riches is about choosing the right financial product. When, in fact, our ‘money mindset’, healthy habits and positive financial behaviours (involving delayed gratification) are the real keys to unlocking our economic success.

Next time you’re about to sign up for that dream deal, then, sleep on it first. You might just find that you avoid a potential nightmare by doing so.

David Rankin is an author, public speaker and founder of the personal budgeting service Sort My Money. This article does not offer personal financial advice.