When you live in Singapore, you probably have problems with rising cost of living or limited job. But that’s not the whole picture. The big part is also a need for instant gratification. That explains why people of Singapore always seem broke, no matter how money they make every day.

And why is that? There is always the eternal struggle oriented against satisfaction. People must reduce some of their wishes and plans in order to satisfy the essential need when they grow old and become incapable of work. The problem with our brain is that it loves immediate satisfaction more, while that is our evolutional survival power. That’s the same quality that makes spending more difficult when we have it. Instant pleasure makes people spend money on buying things more than they can use and creating semi-conscious shopping.

1. One of the main problems of people of Singapore is paying more for unnecessary speed.

Instant gratification means having what you want, but having it immediately. That means they are ready to pay a premium on speed, even when there are no logical reasons for it. If they shop online, and there is an option for express shipping, they will order it. Sometimes, that is justified and useful, especially when there is some tight situation. But, express shipping is not always necessary and is usually more expensive. However, average citizen of Singapore would almost always order exactly this kind of shipping. And the reason is again? Instant gratification, yes.

There are also many other situations where paying more for unnecessary speed comes to the fore. For example, these people would rather buy some clothes for 350$ today, than wait a couple of days for the other shops to get the same clothes for 35$.

Logic dictates that, barring some sort of urgent need, people should wait a few days for the better deal. But, instant gratification can cause them to buy the clothes for more, for no other reason than not wanting to wait.

2. Another reason that makes Singapore citizens seem poorer is that they buy more than they can use.

Instant gratification makes people buy things for “later”, even when there is no reason. That’s why the finally have more than they can use.

People buy a new book, they are excited to try some new recipes, but also, instant gratification may cause them to buy so many ingredients and spend too much money. That leads to having more things that can not be used and having much less money than it is planned. It will take months to get through all the recipes. That’s way the money should be spent slowly and only for ingredients that are really needed.

The same problem exists when we talk about hobbies like reading and wine. An answer for all is: instant gratification.

3. People of Singapore have one more habit that shows they give into instant gratification.

And that is making semi-conscious purchases. Singaporeans act fast: sometimes, their hands move and the wallet is open before they even realise they are spending. That also happens in diet struggles – it’s the phenomenon where people are looking at the bottom of the potato chip bag, even though they only intended to take one or two pieces.

This sort of spending tends to happen at the checkout counter of a supermarket. Singaporeans may end up making side-purchases and not really thinking of the cost, when shopping online. This can happen when people see “someone who bought this, also bought…” category.

4. Another characteristic of Singaporeans is improperly-timed selling.

Instant gratification doesn’t just cause bad purchases, it also can cause bad sales.

One common example of this is selling stock at the wrong time. Say one Singaporean invested in the Straits Time Index Fund for seven years, and on one particularly good year the share values are high. Instant gratification may tempt him to sell the stock and indulge in the money right away, even if he’d be better off holding onto it for his retirement portfolio.

If a Singaporean needs money to buy an expensive luxury, it can lead to “hocking” his stuff or selling things on Carousell / Ebay to raise funds. In his rush to make money, he may be selling more valuable items at steep price cuts, to get the money fast.

This makes no sense, as he’d be buying high and selling low. Surrendering an insurance policy for an early payout, selling an own stock to get a quick buck, or Ebaying jewellery can all amount to serious financial losses.

5. In Singapore, people are buying on credit when it’s not necessary.

For example, an average Singaporean wants to buy a new laptop. He could set aside $500 a month for three months, or he could buy it right this instant by taking a personal instalment loan.

Now if the laptop were essential for work, that would be understandable. But if it’s to watch Netflix or surf the net, it might not be worth paying the interest rate on the personal loan from Credit Excel Capital just to have it immediately.

There are many purchases that can wait, if we see things from a reasoned perspective. It’s the need for instant gratification that encourages people to get into debt, by pushing theirselves to buy on the spot.

How should people of Singapore control the need for instant gratification?

The good news is that self-control can be developed. That’s why grown ups are much less impulsive than they were as children. But only a minority can resist instant gratification. However, Singaporeans, as well as the others, can gradually build their self-control by establishing and following systems. For example, they could set a rule that they will buy a new thing only when they have fully used up something related. That should be even some new video game someone wants, but only buys after completed previous game.

The other ways to build self-control in Singaporeans is to simply rest well and eat well. People need instant gratification when they are full of stress and when they are exhausted, as they will lose mental resilience. By ensuring that they sleep well and remain healthy, they will be in better control of theirselves.

Good luck, Singaporeans!

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