Fanatical Delayed Gratification: How “Living Poor” Made Me Rich

One of the things I struggle with is the idea of delayed gratification.

I don’t struggle in the sense that I eat dessert first.

No sir.

I struggle with it in the sense that I fanatically embrace the concept. 


I was the kid eating ketchup packets at Mcdonald’s when I was still hungry because I was too cheap to order another 49-cent hamburger.  

(I was already choosing to eat the hamburger rather than the cheeseburger to save the 10 cents on the cheese.) 

Yes, I have been a bit of a cheapskate saver from a young age.

I have also been interested in finance and investing since a young age – I remember starting the “Bulls and Bears” stock investment club following the model of The Beardstown Ladies when I was in high school.

Now, I’m not saying my anti-spending obsession is all bad. 

Brilliant billionaire Warren Buffet is notoriously frugal: living in a modest house, driving an old pickup, and eating burgers and drinking coke on the regular. 

So I guess I’m in good company there.

Emily Cressey- On My Personal Philosphy

But sometimes I think the frugality can come from a sense of insecurity – from feeling that you don’t have enough, or you – yourself – are not enough, without money.

It’s hard to say, because frugal habits have built financial empires. Witness: Dave Ramsey and Mr. Money Mustache.

You can really set yourself up for success if you live with a plan toward the future.  

Tradition says to save 10% of your income.

Many financially successful “ordinary people” have saved 15%, 30% or even 50% of their earnings during high-income years.  

I heard one story where a couple committed to saving 90% of their income and slept in the bakery store where they worked, so they could save enough money to buy the business from their relative one day. (They eventually did.)

But at a certain point, you get to start living for today, instead of for tomorrow.

How will you know when that day has arrived for you?

Personally, my goal is to live a little better each year than the last.

Now that the world has “opened up” again – it’s time to make up for lost time and spend a little of that hard-earned money on family experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.  

Those times together are true wealth.

Emily Cressey

Emily Cressey is a real estate broker residing in Lake Forest Park, WA who services the Greater Seattle area including Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Lynnwood, Kenmore, Bothell and Edmonds, WA.

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