We live in a culture where instant gratification is emphasized over delayed gratification. When we want something we want it right then and a lot of the time cannot fathom waiting for even a few days to make sure we are sure we want whatever it is. Whether it be this year’s newest iPhone, that brand new car we see Matthew McConaughey driving in commercials, or those football playoff tickets that cost an arm and a leg just so we can see our team play.
These past two years have been a big lesson for me in waiting for the things that I want and not jumping the gun and buying what I want when I want it.
When I was still in college in early 2019 I noticed a lot of the wear and tear on my 12-year-old car starting to show. The plastic on the front dash was tearing, my air conditioning went out (a big problem here in the south), plus a few pistons blew. Fixing all those problems was far too expensive for a college student so I just put oil in the car every month in the hopes of keeping the car running. Dealing with all those woes I decided I was going to save money for a new car and buy one completely in cash.
Growing up, my parents were HUGE Dave Ramsey followers, and although I don’t follow all of his teachings now, my parents did drill into my mind some of his methods. For example, the borrower is a slave to the lender, and if you have the means only pay for things in cash. My mindset was that I would only pay cash no matter how long it took, mainly to prove to myself I could do it, and nobody was going to change my mind. Thankfully my parents supported this goal and allowed me to live at home while I saved up.
Saving is Hard!
Admittedly, sticking to my guns was difficult because, like everyone else, when I wanted something I wanted it right now. Not to mention, saving up money is hard, especially working a college minimum wage job. After the first year of saving, I had only put away $4,000 which was discouraging. It felt like I would never be able to buy a new car.
I graduated college in 2020 with a degree in Information Systems (at the height of the pandemic, of course, just my luck), and immediately started looking for jobs. The first month met me with seemingly constant “thank you for applying but no thanks” emails but after two months of searching, I was hired as an Information Technology Specialist at my high school alma mater! For the first time, I had an “adult job” which allowed me to save much more than I thought I would be able to. After a year of working at that job, I saved about $14,000!
A year later I came to Dogwood, and somehow it got even more difficult to keep my goal. Quite possible that the proximity of Prevail to our new office had a lot to do with that! I had just enough money to begin looking for a car but not enough to buy one. In mid-2021 I started looking for a car, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. At that time used cars were in such high demand that it was almost as expensive to buy a used car as it was to buy a new one.
Thankfully, our office is full of car fanatics so as I was looking they started to give their input (I’m looking at you Matt, Thomas, and Jesse). They gave me a wide range of different opinions and helped me figure out my best plan of action.
Once I had saved up about $20,000, I was just itching to buy a car and my old 2007 Toyota Camry with the broken a/c and blown pistons was really on its last leg. I ended up getting frustrated with the process of looking for the right car so I was just going to settle with a 2019 Toyota Corolla. Everyone encouraged me to stay strong, not settle, and definitely not to settle for a Corolla as the reward for my delayed gratification. Apparently, they aren’t very stylish for a 24-year-old guy according to my coworkers.
Once the new year hit I had accumulated $24,000 and after looking for what felt like forever and finally determining that a newer car was actually cheaper than buying a used car at the time, I found a 2022 Hyundai Elantra in Auburn for the exact amount of money I had saved!
The Spoils of Delayed Gratification
In those 2 years that I was saving all my money, I had to forgo a lot of creature comforts and things I would have liked to do like eating out at my favorite restaurant, moving out of my parents’ house, and living on my own, or going on trips I wanted to go on. In the end, it proved to be worth all the pain of waiting. I truly felt like I had earned that car. I had put a lot of effort and a lot of frustration into getting that car.
I definitely second-guessed myself several times but I proved that not only can I wait for those big things that I want but that the hard work that goes into fighting for something you really want is worthwhile and extremely rewarding.
Have a story to share? We’d love to hear it and possibly share it here in the Dogwood Journal. The first step is to submit your story today!