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RISMEDIA, October 19, 2010—(MCT)—When we were growing up, most of our parents encouraged us to save our money if we wanted to buy something. Developing good money skills as a child was important and would create habits for life. But for many of us, those habits are gone.

Why don’t adults save their money as much as children? Credit may have something to do with it. Credit abuse and the unraveling of savings habits have destroyed finances as adults and brought down economies.

Are we as individuals to blame for this or is society? Interesting research shows it could be society.

As consumers, we expect to get what we want fast and hate to wait. We want to walk into the doctor’s office exam room when we get there. We want money out of the ATM at 2 a.m. We want our food out the drive-through window in 30 seconds. So it’s not surprising we want more money now instead of waiting to build it up through saving.

A group of researchers in Canada found the cause of this “instant financial gratification need” could be because of our “now”-obsessed society. Just a glimpse of fast-food restaurant signs resulted in people becoming impatient about their finances. Most of those who saw the signs first said they were unwilling to postpone immediate gain for future rewards, when compared with those who did not see them. Therefore, they sacrificed savings even when it would put them at an economic disadvantage.

Those sign-seers were also more likely to accept a smaller amount of cash than be willing to wait to receive a larger amount.

“Fast food seemed to have made people impatient in a manner that could put their economic interest at risk,” researchers reported in Psychological Science.

We’ve seen this behavior in investors, too. More are looking to make a short-term gain in the next hot stock versus investing over the long term to build up for the future. These investors cause market volatility by fleeing the market in panics and jumping in when things look better. And this is the worst way to invest. Market timers are proven to have lower returns over the long term.

So the next time you feel the urge for instant financial gratification, whether through an investment, loan or salary, ask yourself if what you are doing is harmful to your long-term perspective, personal and financial.

(c) 2010, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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