Buy now, consume later

31 Jan, 2022

‘Buy now, pay later’ – how good is that! You’re telling me I can have what I want before I’ve even finished paying for it? What’s the catch?

Buy Now Pay Later products like AfterPay or Zip Pay are an increasingly popular financial product that are the latest expression of an old consumer mindset – the sooner we can have it, the better – right?

You might think so! Especially when those new shoes in your size are right in front of you. And retailers are more than happy to oblige. They know the pull of this desire and that whoever can get us what we want quickly and conveniently is more likely to get our business. Buy Now Pay Later companies are designed to help retailers do just that.

It sounds great, I like convenience and don’t see myself falling into the trap of over-committing. However, researchers have begun to notice that as we gain convenience, we may be giving up joy. This is because convenience robs us of anticipation, and the anticipation building up to attending an event or making a purchase is actually part of the joy of the event or purchase itself.

We’ve all experienced this. Remember how exciting your birthday was when you were a kid, how much anticipation there was? In my family, birthdays were an opportunity for mum and dad to get us kids something a bit special – like a new bike.

That’s what I got for my 13th birthday. For months and months I looked forward to that day with great longing and anticipation, which all added to the joy when the day finally arrived!

Compare that to now. I’m an adult and if I wanted a bike I could jump online and have one delivered within 3-4 business days. I wouldn’t even need to wait to save up for it, because with Buy Now Pay Later products I could do exactly that, and be riding my new bike before I’ve even started paying for it!
Have you had a similar experience?

It feels like the way we have begun to consume is making consumption less enjoyable. More convenient, but less enjoyable.

Anticipation is part of the joy. The more anticipation builds, the more joy we get out of the things we do and buy!

I thought my parents taught me that patience is a virtue because they were holding out on me. Turns out, patience can lead to greater joy!

So how can we get some of that joy back?

Save up!

Saving up for the things we want to buy not only protects us from the danger of late fees Buy Now Pay Later companies charge, but we naturally begin to build anticipation and excitement.

Slow Down

Saving money also forces us to slow down our spending and consider if it’s something we really want or need, whether it’s something that will really bring us joy, or if there is some other reason driving our decision.

When we slow down our spending, we make better choices,[2] and in turn this builds our confidence and financial wellbeing.

The practice of saving money sounds simple, but it’s a necessary financial skill to develop if one wants to experience financial wellbeing.

It’s skills like these that Money Mentors volunteering in local churches right across Australia are helping people in their community develop, so they can go on a journey towards financial wellbeing for themselves.

When you give to CAP Australia, you’re training more Money Mentors to reach their communities across the country, equipping them with financial education skills that can truly transform lives.

Thank you for your support!

[1] Dunn, Gilbert, D. T., & Wilson, T. D. (2011). If money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21(2), 115–125.

[2]Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow (1st ed.). Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Want to learn more? Find out your financial wellbeing score