Why Instant Gratification is the ‘Greatest’ Killer of Becoming Rich

6 min


This blog,TopVincent.Com (Smart Living for Smart People) is co-founded by Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri and Rev. Dr Solomon Nortey.

Creating wealth or becoming rich is not an overnight voyage—despite almost everyone having the need for this to happen quickly in their lives. No one becomes rich or wealthy by a mistake or an accident. It takes calculated steps and efforts to become rich. Even, the lotto winner has to put in an effort by staking the big lotto and following through with the process of claiming the winning prize to become rich.

Therefore, wealth and work go hand in hand. But it’s not all forms of work that would make you wealthy, it’s only smart working which is a branch of smart living, that will see you become richer, even faster.

While I intend to discuss the main reason why a lot of people are not rich or are not gravitating towards riches, let me first state that, there is nothing wrong with becoming a rich person in life—and in fact, there is everything wrong with being poor. The warped mindset that wealth is not good or being rich is just for others and not you, is the reason why a lot of people are stuck in poverty.

Money enables things: you are able to help others, do the things that really matter to you, provide better healthcare for yourself and loved ones and live stress free life in a comfortable environment as the constant worrying about money suddenly disappears from your life. You are even able to give your children a better education and give them something to start life with. What is bad about this?   

Money makes things go around and that’s why it is the number one determinant of almost everything in this life—good or bad.

Understanding money is the key to becoming or remaining rich. Money comes and goes, hence, it’s what you do with it when it is within your hands that will separate you from the others. And our attitude towards money hovers around the concept of “Instant and Delayed Gratification.”

Instant Gratification

What is Instant Gratification?

As Rich Dad, Poor Dad’s author­-Robert Kiyosaki once posted on Facebook “Delayed gratification is a sign of emotional intelligence. The ‘poor’ mind-set wants everything NOW – capital gains. An emotionally mature investor understands delayed gratitude from cash flowing investments.”

From the above, it’s obvious that instant gratification means wanting things now and lacking the habit or mind-set of sacrificing in the short term, for much better long term gains.

Instant gratification is the best friend of the poor, and also the evil bulwark between the broke person and the rich person. Many of us will become or have been broke in lives before—being broke is temporary, a condition you can work smart to get out of if you have the needed mind-set and financial education. But being poor, is eternal. That is why smart people who may be financially inadequate at any point in time would regard themselves as being broke and not poor. Knowing just these two distinctions alone, carries a distinguishing level of positive and negative energy that you can pump into your life by knowing what to call what situation you find yourself. Remember, we are and become what we think we are—our thoughts matter more than we even know.

Becoming wealthy or rich

How Does Instant Gratification Keep You Poor or Broke?

Instant gratification lacks vision, long term planning and its associated rewards. It even violates the much cherished idea of compounding—either interest, capital or even knowledge.

Since most people are employees, I will spend much time to consider ‘Instant Gratification’ within the borders of employment—and on small businesses. If you do not know, I am not a proponent of any form of employment irrespective of the deceptive benefits they tie to it, as trading your time for money is an obsolete concept that it mainly keeps a lot of people poor or broke. The saying, no one becomes a true millionaire by just working for another is somewhat true.

I came to understand the long term ramifications of instant gratification many years ago when I moved to the United Kingdom. The poor wants almost everything now, they are not ready to sacrifice today for a hefty reward tomorrow. It’s not just a coincidence that most poor people are hoarders and seem to want everything under the sun, and want them now.

If a poor mind-set person and a rich mind-set person are all given 1,000 dollars today, the concept of “Instant and Delayed Gratification” denotes that, the poor will get himself a treat or spend this money instantly or within the next few days or months. The rich, will delay every immediate gratification that could possibly be obtained by spending this money, and he will invest it—thereby delaying the gratification, and eventually yielding big and obtaining a much bigger gratification.

When it comes to “Instant and Delayed Gratification,” time is the main distinguishing factor—gratification, which means satisfaction of a desire or pleasure will come but when this will happen is what matters in a carefully structured life.   

Unfortunately, human beings are by default wired for instant gratification. Our evolutionary make up has ill-equipped us this way. However, the rich have taught themselves that to become and remain wealthy, they must forego instant gratification and embrace delayed gratification—on the back of investing now, to reap bigger later. Engaging in decisions that makes you happy or feel better now, but hurts or hinder your future financial position, is just not bad, but also stupid.

Now back to my story in the UK. When I came to the UK, I met a few friends and family members out here—working full time and making what was relatively good money. In the short term, it was good money since if you put in more hours, you would get more.

Soon, I realized a lot of these people were not about delayed gratification, they worked now, got paid now and mostly spent more than 95% of their salaries now. The future was left with little or it was believed things will magically take care of itself in the future. God will provide, some smugly said.

I joined the working force, doing all manner of odd jobs—from factory to whatever job was available. But then, I always wanted to become a wealthy lawyer so I decided to invest into becoming that while making a lot of sacrifices by delaying gratification. I would go to classes during the day and at night go to work. Any money I made was not instantly spent or pushed towards obtaining any short term gratification. I invested it, under the concept of delayed gratification by buying books and paying for my Law school education.

Alongside these menial jobs and full-time education, I was also building an online business as my ultimate was to live the dot com lifestyle (achieve financial and time freedom in life). A blog/news website I started then, which now (12 years later) receives about 2 million readers a month has become a source of great revenue for me.

At the time, the people around me were being paid between £7 to £9 an hour for the sort of jobs being done. It was good money. I spent the next 8 years delaying my gratification by investing my income (this time into education) to become a lawyer. I obtained a first degree in Law, 2 masters’ degrees in Law and completed the Legal Practice Course too. I was earning good money but I was a broke student. I understood that that was necessary—as I was investing my returns.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go to school to become an employee. I wanted to become self-employed, no matter what. During this period, I also read several articles and books about how it sucks to become an employee and how to create wealth.

Today, I see most of the people I met in the UK or started with still around, earning between £10 to £13 an hour while as a Trainee Solicitor/Lawyer in London, my hourly rate is at about £121. That’s a huge difference between returns based on whether you decide to take it now, or invest it and take it later.

The poor minded person has two major problems—short term vision and immediate gratification. The rich constantly thinks about investing their money and time, not to take a meagre return now but to reap big in the long-run.

Many people have short term visions and therefore short term wants. This explains why many people are not rich. Many people are just employees, and that is why many people are not millionaires or rich too.

What the rich have over the poor and the broke are, patience and financial knowledge (including the understanding of the power of compounding, assets and liabilities)—they understand that money is power and they have the skills to manage money well. One of such skills is to be able to defer gratification. I know people who hold iPhones worth over 1,200 dollars but do not have any investment or business worth same amount or more sitting anywhere. How is this not a poor person’s mindset?

Anyone who wants to make money now or quickly lacks delayed gratification and has no long term plan, the reason why that person is poor or broke. And also knowing the difference between wants and needs is what separate the poor from the rich.

Embracing delayed gratification by investing now, to reap greater returns later on is what will make you wealthy and set you far apart from the many around. It’s only those who lack long-term visions and plans (the poor), who dwell within the borders of instant gratification and find solace there.

The truth is, smart living is what the rich engage in–and the poor, the opposite of that.

READ ALSO: Re-Echoing “10 Reasons Why You Do Not Need A Job” to Be Successful


Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri Febiri, LLB, LLM
I am Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, a thinker, a minimalist, a writer and something like a legal polymath based in the United Kingdom; I hold 2 Master’s degrees in Law; International Human Rights Law (LL.M) and Legal Practice Course (LL.M) from University of Leicester and Nottingham Law School--and also a degree in Law (LL.B). I currently work at Adukus Solicitors in London--where I use my legal brains to kick real ass, for the good of my clients and humanity. Contact: [email protected]