Instant Gratification or Long Term Goals? Can You Have Both?

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So this week, I was having a discussion with my work colleagues, and the topic of instant gratification came up. We were looking at the choices we had made in our profession, and came to some interesting conclusions.

We decided that on the whole, individuals who liked quick wins went into areas such as surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, trauma and orthopaedics and A&E. Those who didn’t mind long-term strategy planning went into areas like general practice, psychiatry and general medicine.

Fast…

Obviously this is a HUGH tongue-in-cheek sweeping statement, but I hope you can see my point.

Yes this was me when I was an Obstetrics and Gynaecology trainee…..

Traditionally, surgery and emergency medicine is satisfying for the quick wins and adrenaline rushes of treating patients. If someone has appendicitis, you take them to theatre. Babies only need 40 weeks and then ideally need to be born. Broken legs need fixing.

 

Fast turnover, fast paced.

Or Slow?

Chronic illnesses however require patience, persistence and sometimes “trial and error” to treat them. Some patients respond to one drug, while others do not. Sometimes negotiation and flexibility is required to improve concordance with a treatment choice. It’s definitely not always a quick fix, but the satisfaction comes in making a difference to someone’s life and family over the long term.

So seeing as I am “The Female Money Doctor”, it obviously got me thinking about money and our habits.

Interestingly, there may be some correlations in my own life – when I worked in a high adrenaline, fast-paced specialty, I spent money just as fast. Now I’m learning to be a GP, I’m much calmer in my spending habits!

I see the “quick wins” in both good and bad money habits – in fact, pretty much every area can be related back to it!

Debt

Paying off the smallest debt first as in the snowball method demonstrates “quick win” mentality. Once the small one is done, you can celebrate and pay off the next one and so on.

Quick wins = higher motivation = more likely you’ll pay it all off

Paying off debt is also a long-term wealth-building strategy, especially if you have a lot to pay off. For example, you may have a large student loan, or perhaps you want to pay off your mortgage early. The key to this is patience and persistence, and sometimes you will find it hard to stay motivated for such a long time.

Savings

Having an emergency fund is a small savings goal that can save your bum in well, an emergency. A quick win with potentially huge results.

A longer term savings goal may be to fund a house deposit. This can take a long time, especially if you have other things to pay for. It’ll be worth it in the end, but time is your best friend in this.

Investing

Investing is the ability to make your money grow more than it would if it was sat in the bank. The value of investments can go up as well as down, but the trend is generally upwards over time.

Stock trading is an example of quick win, adrenaline rush mentality (think Wolf of Wallstreet). In this game, stock value changes so frequently, you need to be fast in your decision making to avoid losing money – but can have some pretty decent wins too (providing you know what you’re doing of course). It’s also a potentially fast route to losing money quickly, so definitely not for dabbling in unless you’re prepared for this.

On the “get-rich-slow” side, my favourite way to invest is through index trackers. These are amazing investment funds that allow you to buy a small piece of a lot of businesses all at once. They are low cost and require minimal input other than to learn which ones to pick in the first place and review them every year. Ideally, these need to be held for at least 5 years, but my strategy is to buy and hold unless I have a really good reason to switch out.

I run a course in how to do this if you’re interested because I am that passionate about it and think everyone should be doing it!

Spending

Emotional spending and impulse purchasing are “quick losses” that can easily and rapidly tear a hole in your financial goals. The same goes for surgery – one wrong turn and suddenly you’ve torn a hole in something important.

It doesn’t always have to be like this though. Saving up for something you really want can be extremely satisfying. Imagine having the money to buy a car outright, or a mobile phone so you can go sim-only and save yourself loads of money every month. Last year, my holiday to Mexico was paid for IN FULL. I had never done this before, so I was super-chuffed with myself.

Money Is A Long-Term Game

I think the bottom line is, money is a life-long commitment. Just like puppies not being just for Christmas, sorting out your money is not just for times when you “feel broke”, or have it on your January New Year’s resolution list.

When you commit to being better with your money you make a commitment for life.

Now over to you. Where have you been playing for quick-wins? Do you have some success stories? Tell us in the comments!

Until next time,

 

 

 

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