In 1970, Stanford University Walter Mischel and Ebbe B. Ebbesen conducted an experiment that they called the “Marshmallow Test”. They gathered about 600 kids (avg. age 4.5) and basically tempted them with a marshmallow, or some form of candy or cake.
It went something like this: a child is left alone in a room having no distractions whatsoever. A marshmallow is then placed in front of him/her and the child is given two options: to eat the marshmallow straightaway or wait fifteen minutes and receive a second marshmallow as an award. So, what does it have to do with financial independence you would ask…
Guess how many of them waited?
Many of you who follow Life as an Investment either dream to achieve financial independence, or are already on their way. According to Robert Kyosaki (read about his books here), “You are wealthy as long as you can live the lifestyle you’re used to—without having to work.” Basically, Kiyosaki is trying to tell us that the ideal scenario to achieve “wealthy” status is when our money makes money—without having to work for it.
The first step in being wealthy is to SAVE. This means you need to prioritize spending—and save every month of every year until a certain amount of money is achieved. Then it’s time to invest!
Saving is the toughest part, especially for the younger generation who are constantly tempted by “materialism.” To save means to wait, to postpone instant satisfaction, and to delay gratification. We need to limit ourselves and stop doing the things we like so much (shopping, clubbing, partying etc.) and wait for that perfect opportunity to invest.
We live in a culture that is dominated by “consumerism.” The “own now and pay later” concept has put us in a situation where we can own things without having the means pay for them.
First, “shopping” was considered stress-reducing for broken-hearted women. Now, men AND women are shopping equally —and it’s considered a hobby!
Meanwhile, the follow-up “Marshmallow Test” studies have revealed interesting results. The children who waited the extra fifteen minutes ended up being more successful in their careers, studies, and life in general.
This “Marshmallow Test” is nicely described in the book: Don’t Eat the Marshmallow Yet! The Secret to Sweet Success in Work and Life—by Joachim de Posada.
The book is only 130 pages long and is easy to understand. It describes a 28 year-old driver named Arthur who decided to better his life by delaying gratification.
Reading the story about Arthur gives the reader a chance to relate with their own gratification issues. Arthur’s habits and lifestyle, like many of our own, mirror today’s problems of modern society.
The marshmallow rule of delayed gratification works not only with financial goals, but also with many aspects of life—for instance, eating healthier and building a trustful relationship with a new partner.
To reap the benefits of choosing to delay gratification, one must clearly see and understand WHY most of us choose to be gratified instantly.
Initially, I was pretty bad at saving. In fact, nobody in my family could save! But now I have become quite efficient at saving—for example, I recently signed a contract for an apartment that is currently in the building-process. Basically, I have 1.5 years to save 30,000 Euros for the down payment. So, I have put together a plan and attached it to my fridge so I can see it every day, several times. I also have a Life as an Investment wristband that I wear as a constant reminder about my new priorities…and to stop me from any unnecessary shopping.
As a side note, I have a friend who really wants to lose weight and improve her body—and hanging from her bulletin board at work is a picture of the perfect body with her own face on it. She also has a Life as an Investment sticker on her phone and cards in her wallet. Every time she wants to buy sweets, she’s reminded of her goals. Every time she feels like giving up, she looks at her Life as an Investment wristband, which reads “We are all made of stars” and then she understands, that yes, I can and I will continue fighting!
We just need to want something so badly that nothing could stop us. Dream big! If your dreams don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough!
So, as a first step to achieving your dream, read Don’t Eat the Marshmallow Yet! The Secret to Sweet Success in Work and Life by Joachim de Posada and then sign up for the updates to Life as an investment and let’s work towards your financial independence together!