Smart About Money: Delaying and experimenting your way to wealth?

This is not about delayed gratification, although delayed gratification can be a very useful way to build your wealth – especially when the “delay” causes you to re-think an expenditure and ultimately forgo the “gratification”.

No, this is about something else – specifically, the idea of being willing to delay and experiment before making a big life change, especially one that involves a significant amount of money.

A young couple came into the Bank with a most unusual situation.

They had been very seriously planning to buy their first home, a condo in Canton. They had been looking at condos for years – long before they could ever afford one. They were extremely knowledgeable about the market and had seen a lot of properties they knew they could be happy with. They were pre-approved for a mortgage and both had good jobs, so they also felt confident about their finances.

Very rarely have I seen anyone as prepared to be homeowners as this couple. So I was quite surprised when they asked if they could put their pre-approval on hold. It turns out they had decided to keep their current apartment for 12 more months and act “as if” they had bought a condo. They planned to set aside the monthly mortgage payments, condo fees, taxes and insurance payments, utilities – every expense they could think of – in a separate bank account.

Basically, they wanted to do a year-long “test run” and be 100% sure they could comfortably afford a condo before they actually bought one.

Wow! That idea might not be right for everyone. And timing matters a lot. If they had fallen in love with one particular condo, then waiting might be a mistake.

But sometimes people buy new homes and then find themselves financially strapped. What this couple is doing virtually guarantees that owning a home will be a positive move for them.

A gentleman in his early 70s recently told me about his “adventures” buying a second home in Florida. He was about 65 at the time and decided he wanted a break from our New England winters. A lot of his friends had places in Vero Beach. They were urging him to buy a place there too. But he wasn’t sure he wanted two homes or if he’d feel comfortable about leaving his house in Canton for long periods.

So he went to visit his friends for a week one winter. He liked Vero Beach. “Seemed like a nice place,” he told me. The next winter, Winter 2, he went to Vero Beach for two weeks and found himself completely bored! So in Winter 3, he used his vacation to travel from the east coast of Florida to the west coast, staying in 5 different places along the way.

He found a town he loved and spent two months there the next winter, Winter 4. Being away from Canton was fine, no problem. The next winter, Winter 5, he went back to the Florida town he’d come to think of as his “second home” and bought a 2nd home there. He was sure he would be happy with his decision, and it has worked out exactly as he hoped.

You might not want to wait one year – or five. Sometimes there isn’t the luxury of time. But many times there is. Fighting back against our culture’s “Hurry-Buy-Now” attitude can make a huge difference for your finances and your whole life. Look for opportunities to delay and experiment. What you discover might be priceless – in many ways.

Nick Maffeo is the President & CEO of Canton Co-operative Bank in Canton. “Smart About Money” is a regular column he writes for the Canton Citizen. Have a financial question you’d like to ask? Email to


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