The Marshmallow Test and Walking TallSubmitted by Moneywatch Advisors on October 12th, 2018
Back in the late 1960’s the Stanford psychologist, Walter Mischel, studied delayed gratification by placing a marshmallow before a child and offering them a choice: eat the marshmallow now or, if they wait a few minutes, get 2 marshmallows later. The original study found that children who were able to wait longer for their reward tended to have better life outcomes – educational attainment, better health statistics, etc. Suffer now, enjoy later. As a side note, although I am definitely a saver by nature, I wouldn’t wait 2 seconds to eat something chocolate placed before me.
There is a common narrative that savers will eventually reap great rewards by delaying gratification, but only after suffering first. In financial terms, one can eat their marshmallow only when they retire or reach financial freedom, but must drool until then.
There is, of course, a different way to view saving and accumulating wealth. I recently came across an advertisement from 1969 by the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of St. Petersburg. Florida, not Russia. I think it captures quite well the satisfaction and peace of mind one can enjoy NOW by saving and accumulating wealth. (I haven’t edited it, so replace their use of “man” with “person” in your mind while reading)
The Pleasure of Walking Tall
Your savings, believe it or not, affect the way you stand, the way you walk, the tone of your voice. In short, your physical well-being and self-confidence.
A man without savings is always running. He must. He must take the first job offered, or nearly so. He sits nervously on life’s chairs because any small emergency throws him into the hands of others.
Without savings, a man must be too grateful. Gratitude is a fine thing in its place. But a constant state of gratitude is a horrible place in which to live.
A man with savings can walk tall. He may appraise opportunities in a relaxed way, have time for judicious estimates and not be rushed by economic necessity.
A man with savings can afford to resign from his job, if his principles so dictate. And for this reason he’ll never need to do so. A man who can afford to quit is much more useful to his company, and therefore more promotable. He can afford to give his company the benefits of his most candid judgments.
A man always concerned about necessities, such as food and rent, can’t afford to think in long-range career terms. He must dart to the most immediate opportunity for ready cash. Without savings, he will spend a lifetime of darting, dodging.
A man with savings can afford the wonderful privilege of being generous in family or neighborhood emergencies. He can take a level stare into the eyes of any man…friend, stranger or enemy. It shapes his personality and character.
The ability to save has nothing to do with the size of income. Many high-income people, who spend it all, are on a treadmill, darting through life like minnows.
The dean of American bankers, J.P. Morgan, once advised a young broker, “Take waste out of your spending; you’ll drive the haste out of your life.”
Will Rogers put it this way, “I’d rather have the company of a janitor, living on what he earned last year…than an actor spending what he’ll earn next year.”
If you don’t need money for college, a home or retirement then save for self-confidence. The state of your savings does have a lot to do with how tall you walk.