So I guess many of us have already heard of the famous Marshmallow Test.

You know, the study conducted by Stanford University in the 1960s on 600 4-year old children. A child was given a marshmallow and was told that if she doesn’t eat it right away, she’ll have another one later.

Basically, the two options were these: one now or two later?

It sounds like a no-brainer, but to 4-year olds, that’s tough. I mean, who wants to wait? But only 30% passed the test. Later in life, the researchers also discovered that this 30% are the more successful of the group. Interesting, right?

So what’s the point I’m driving? Simple. The secret key to wealth is more than self-control; it’s more than sheer will-power. The secret to wealth is this:
delayed gratification.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on social climbing as the great hindrance against financial independence. Interestingly, the concept that stood out the most was the concept of delayed gratification.

As queen princess of delayed gratification (Mama is queen), I’m happy to hear that.

If I were part of the Marshmallow Test, I’m sure I would have been part of the 30%. I’m not kidding! Seriously, though, the reason is my background. Compared to my two siblings, I am the one who grew up during the time when the family had the worst belt-tightening. My older brother was unico hijo and was spoiled by the extended family (whom I didn’t get to know when I was growing up), and my younger sister is now growing up in a time when she could easily have anything she wants. I grew up knowing a completely different picture. The perks of huge age gaps – one of which is different lifestyles.

Oh this is not a sob story! I love my background because I was forced to learn the art of delayed gratification. I hated it when I was young, but now I can see the benefits. If you don’t happen to share the same experience, don’t fret because delayed gratification is a skill that can be learned. Hard, yes; impossible, no.

But why do you need to learn it? Why is it considered the secret key toward attaining wealth? Elementary, my dear Watson. Here are the reasons:

1. Delayed gratification keeps you from the bad debt.

Good debt is the kind of debt that causes you to earn money. An example is borrowing to begin a business. Now, a bad debt is just that: bad. It’s borrowing to afford a want. It roots from having the need to have what we want right now even if we don’t have the money for it yet. The result is paying for something we don’t need with the money we don’t have.

2. Delayed gratifications prevents you from living the “social climbing” lifestyle.

Do you know the book, “The Millionaire Next Door”? If not, you’ll be surprised to know that many millionaires in America live very simple lives. It’s time to make that decision that your future self will thank you for: act rich now and be poor later or live simply and be rich?

3. Delayed gratification keeps you away from “instant” money.

It may be honest money, but I’m veering away from MLMs (multi-level companies) and pyramids. I don’t have time to explain how it works, but the principle is to earn money by recruiting and urging them to recruit others. It’s passive income, yes, but the fact that it’s “instant” means that it encourages the person to just spend all of his money on stuff because he didn’t work hard for it and more money will come anyway even if he doesn’t lift his butt up from the couch. What happens if the company closes or simply disintegrates?

*If you’re in an MLM, I suggest you invest your money in stocks or mutual funds. Do not even think about buying the latest iPhone.

4. Delayed gratification makes you opt for the safer options: saving, building businesses, and investing.

Here’s the real deal. We need to spend less than what we earn, use this equation (INCOME – SAVINGS = EXPENSES), work and build businesses, and invest and wait for the money to grow.

5. Delayed gratification teaches you these values: patience, contentment, and hardwork.

And self-discipline. And discernment. And humility. And so on.

6. Delayed gratification keeps you away from these evils: envy and jealousy, greed, and laziness.

Instant gratification happens due to temptations like when we envy someone else’s lifestyle. Even if we don’t have money for it yet, we want to have the same lifestyle right away, leading to debt. And if we don’t have the money to pay it, what happens? Sadly, there are more scenarios involving the evils of instant gratification, and they’re common.

7. Delayed gratification ensures that your wealth is matched by the breadth of your experiences and the depth of your learning.

Stories of Lotto (lottery) winners who simply find their selves back in poverty again are not new. It’s really sad, but the truth is that because the money did not come from years of working, waiting, and wise decisions, it was money that’s easy to spend. The more apt term is this Filipino word: waldas. Why? Because they’re simply not prepared spiritually, mentally, and emotionally to handle such a big amount of money. I believe the preparation takes years, even decades.

8. Delayed gratification is, simply, God’s will.

The explanation to this is simple. Jesus calls us to die to ourselves. Delayed gratification is a modern concept about dying to self.  Therefore, I believe Jesus must be pleased with delayed gratification, and this is not unfounded since the concept is consistent with the fruits of the Holy Spirit.


I hope these reasons are enough for you to live a lifestyle influenced by delayed gratification. It’s not normal to have everything right here, right now – really! Ask your lolo or lola! If anything, instant gratification only leads to destruction, and we don’t want that!

So okay, we’ve already proven why delayed gratification is key to financial success. What next? Stay tuned next Friday because I’ll be giving tips on how to apply the concept into our daily lives.

EDIT: Here’s the next post on the tips to apply delayed gratification. ­čÖé