Why our ‘want it now’ attitude is getting the UK’s spending out of control

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A recent survey of 2,000 UK adults between the ages of 18 and 55 shows Brits are short in patience for a lot of things. This includes everything from being put on hold to waiting for an online delivery.

According to the research by HSBC UK, 49% of Brits confess to living with a ‘want it now’ attitude. Two in five also admit to regularly feeling impatient in life because of it.

And while some of the top reasons for impatience are everyday occurrences, it turns out that Brits are also missing out financially because of it. This is partly a result of the need for instant gratification, which is affecting not only saving but also investing possibilities.

Spending for convenience impacts long-term finances

Perhaps the clearest indicator of an ‘I want it now’ attitude is Brits’ willingness to spend more money to get what they want quicker. In fact, four in 10 people pay more for faster shipping, same-day delivery or express services. If they were willing to wait – sometimes just a day longer – they could end up making significant savings each year.

The need for instant gratification is affecting Brits’ ability to save for big-ticket items such as a house or car purchase. For many, it’s also having an impact on saving for retirement.

According to online lender Aldermore, half of Brits don’t have enough money saved up to get them through an emergency and are less than one month away from serious financial trouble. 

Brits are choosing instant gratification over investing

Brits turned their focus to savings during lockdowns. While those savings could’ve been a good starting point for an emergency fund, many are spending those savings now that things are reopening.

According to the survey, 38% of those asked never considered investing their savings. And 19% wouldn’t bother because it takes too long to see a return. Of the Brits turning to investing, 32% chose options that they thought would produce a faster return. These included classic cars, memorabilia, instruments and even vintage stamps.

How to focus on your financial future instead

It’s harder to focus on long-term goals because there’s no instant gratification attached. In an ‘I want it now’ culture, saving for retirement falls way down the list of rewarding things to do with your money. Retraining your brain is key to helping you make better money choices, especially when they require self-control.

  • Go over your bank and credit card statements to see how much money you spent on satisfying your need for instant gratification over the past month. Add up the numbers.
  • Split that amount in two. Going forward, allow yourself half of that money for ‘want it now’ rewards – whether that means ordering a takeaway, paying for express shipping or buying that book you’re likely not going to read anytime soon. Then find a better financial purpose for the other half. That could be investing the money, putting it into an ISA or paying off debt.
  • Find ways to resist temptation. You could keep a list of activities or places to visit locally instead of shopping to beat boredom. Having a plan in place will make it easier to fight the urge to spend.
  • Make a list of your goals and review them often. Do you want to take an expensive vacation overseas in a couple of years? Or buy a home five years down the line? Reminding yourself of those goals can help curb meaningless instant gratification expenses.

Could you be rewarded for your everyday spending?

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