I can remember riding down the street from Gold Circle retail store after picking out my Easter dress. It seemed we passed all the fast food places on the way back home. I would ask my Mother, “can we stop and get a happy meal?” Of course, she asked what every Mom asked her child in the 80’s, “You got some McDonalds Money? I was very persistent, and I was really used to getting my way, so I tried again. She would look over at me and say, “which do you want, the happy meal or the yellow Easter dress and shoes we just picked out?” I wanted that yellow dress, stockings, and patent leather shoes more than any chicken nuggets Hi-c and prize for sure. We went home and had sloppy joe for dinner. That same conversation would repeat from Late February to Mid-March when it was time to get the Layaway out. Each time I was presented with the option of if my yellow Easter dress was more important than the candy lady, skating, and even extra chocolate milk on Friday at school. The yellow Easter dress won every time.
It was a mental thing, because of course this was not my first Easter at Zion Hill Baptist Church, and I was aware of all the fuss everyone would make over all the cute little girls in their Easter dresses. I had made up a whole mental story about it. I knew just how I wanted the part in my hair, I could imagine the smell of the pressing comb on the stove, cool green ultra-sheen on my scalp, and the pink rollers that would hold my style in place until Easter Morning. Easter was weeks away, but I had a plan, and a goal in mind.
On the day we got the things out of layaway, it was something special. There was a sense of pride among those of us in line to get our layaway out. We had made all the payments prior and this was the last one. With receipt in hand my mother would give her ID to the cashier, who would send someone to the back to get our stash of goodies. They would come out hanging in clusters draped in plastic to keep the “new” smell in them, so I imagined. I stood their grinning from ear to ear as the final payment was made the items were bagged and we would leave the store.
Okay, sorry I got a little carried away. The memory of this ritual is still very vivid. Which points to the steadfastness I embodied as a child to resist the urge to take any financial resources away from my layaway. I had bought into it with my mind, and I was attached to how I would feel, how I would look, how others would respond to me, and all the other emotions we connect with getting the things we want.
My Nana would say, ‘there is nothing new under the sun Nicky-colie’. I find that to be completely true today. There is nothing new about the way we all want to have nice things, and how we imagine things will be when we get them. The emotions tied to shopping and spending and the gratification of getting the thing we want remain the same 30 years later for me. I am no different than anyone else. We all have the thing that makes our eyes light up, when we see it. We know the feeling of wanting something so bad we can taste it. We are willing to do almost anything in the world to get it. Well, except for waiting for it.
We want the new shiny thing at microwave speed, regardless of our budget, or our ability to afford it. Our impulse kicks in and we want it right now. Few retail stores have layaway these days. Instead they offer you store credit cards with 20% off at the register to entice you to make the purchase right away. We are encouraged to be impulsive. The idea of saving up for it or, making payments before we take the item home is unheard of. Often, we find we are still making payments on our impulse buys, months after the newness wears off.
I have to say for me personally, the delayed gratification of layaway did me very well. I was able to learn discipline and patience, and not to spend beyond my means, and that I could not have something until I was able to pay for it. Once I finally got my yellow dress, I appreciated it more because of the process it took me to get it.
Over the past 30 years I found that I allowed myself to drift into the land of instant gratification and having things in my possession before I paid for them. I convinced myself a few times I needed a new wardrobe for Spring and found that I was still making easy monthly payments when it was time to get a Winter wardrobe and the cycle would continue. I had drifted into the trap of instant gratification, and I was willing to pay a fee to use someone else’s money to have it right now.
I always had good credit, so it was easy to get approved for the cards, and loans, and credit lines so I just started to take advantage of the offers. In the long run I realize it cost me so much more. The thousands of dollars in interest I have paid on things that are not worth the savings I lost had I been able to bank those fees for using someone else’s money.
I have stopped using credit cards about 9 months ago, and I am aggressively working to pay down any outstanding debt I have. This leaves very little extra money to play with, yet there are things a girl still wants just as bad as that yellow Easter dress. I really want a new desk chair for my home office, and I want a new video light so I can make videos for my YouTube channel. I have done my homework and searched the internet for items in my price range. I have come up with a budget that I am willing to spend on the items, and I am saving for them each week in my online “Layaway” account at www.ally.com. Once I have the amount saved up enough to make my purchase, I will buy the items without the convenience fee of interest. Having to wait to purchase the items allows me more time to research and find deals, and above all appreciate the purchase more than anything. I guess you can say I am taking my spending habits back to the good ol’ days.
I would love to know if you are doing anything similar to delay gratification, and to avoid the use of credit, and impulse buys. This is a new way of thinking about money for many. I am confident that these habits will contribute to wealth building. Feel free to subscribe and leave a comment here, or contact me directly at www.gofundyourlife.com, email@example.com, https://www.facebook.com/urbancashcoach/ or, https://www.facebook.com/GoFundYourLife/ I love hearing how people are funding their own lives!