The Future You

This past Monday was the season premiere of the last season of How I Met Your Mother.

HIMYM cast suited up.

I am a huge fan of the show (awesome cast + New York + hilarious story lines = gold). But I’m not here to talk about how awesome the show is. I want to talk about one of the show’s moments that stuck out to me. [Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling the most recent episode]

Early on in the series (Season 1, Episode 8 to be exact), roommates Ted and Marshall had to figure out who gets to keep their apartment once Marshall gets married. This was an issue they knew they had to talk about, but instead of figuring it out whenever the topic came up, they decided to just leave it up to “Future Ted” and “Future Marshall” to take care of it since they didn’t want to deal with it at the time. Ted eventually realizes that by postponing that uncomfortable conversation, the situation has become worse.

From Season 1 Episode 8 "The Duel"

From Season 1 Episode 8 “The Duel”

That scene made me think – what am I doing for Future Lisa? Am I making life easier or harder on the future me? I can tell you right now that Past Lisa, more specifically College Lisa, was not looking out for Future Lisa’s interests. In fact, College Lisa was only concerned with College Lisa’s reputation and material wants and not Future Lisa’s net worth or debt situation. That explains the huge pile of shoes and mess of clothes I have in my closet, and also my annoying credit card debt!

Damn it, Past Lisa!

A few months ago, I read an article by Mr. Money Mustache where he touches on the benefits of delayed gratification. MMM defines delayed gratification as:

the ability to put off immediate pleasure… for the purpose of getting even better results in the future.

In other words, delayed gratification is when you deny yourself something now in hopes that you’ll receive a better one in the future. He brings up a famous psychological study that looked at kids. Basically, the children were told that they would receive one cookie right now, OR, if they waited for a few minutes, they would receive two cookies. The results were recorded, but the study didn’t stop there. The researchers actually kept in touch with these kids and checked in with them periodically, even when they reached young adulthood. MMM summarizes the results:

As it turned out, the pleasure-delayers did better in school, graduated to get better jobs, and ended up in higher-paying careers as adults, with fewer debt problems.

The results of this study are so telling of the benefits of delayed gratification! Not only did these kids get two cookies instead of one, they also had better grades, careers, and better financial situations later on in life.

I know I’m not the only on who is avoiding uncomfortable situations (and yes, waiting counts as an uncomfortable situation). But when we embrace the discomfort, we reap benefits which we may not be able to see until days, months, or – in the case of these kids – years from now.

So, are you…
  • Frustrated with a certain person? Your future self will thank you for taking care of it, whether it be by talking it out or finding a way to deal with it.
  • Tired of paying off debt? Your future self will thank you when you send in that last payment.
  • Too lazy to exercise? Your future self will thank you when you finally reach your weight/fitness goals.
  • Avoiding money talk with your significant other? Your future self will thank you when your goals are aligned and your money stresses are gone.
  • Sick and tired of being sick and tired? Your future self will thank you when you schedule in some “me” time.


Don’t disappoint the Future You! Do something about your current situation so that your Future Self will thank you instead of curse you.

What are you doing today for the benefit of Future You?



  1. Marissa@Thirtysixmonths October 6, 2013

    Great reference point! Awesome article. I couldn’t agree more.
    Marissa@Thirtysixmonths recently posted…Proactive Ways to Lower Car Insurance RatesMy Profile

    • Lisa E. October 7, 2013

      Thanks Marissa!

  2. Charles@gettingarichlife October 1, 2013

    Hi Lisa,
    Your future self is going to thank you when you pay off your house and lock in your living costs. I often think of all my missed opportunities and the thousands it has cost me.
    Charles@gettingarichlife recently posted…Building Up My FU Money One Investment At A TimeMy Profile

    • Lisa E. October 1, 2013

      Agreed! I just want to focus on my CC debt first, then my student loans, then my car, THEN my house! Man, when I list it out like that, it gets a little overwhelming, but I’m going to do it for Future Lisa! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Charles!

  3. Travis @Debtchronicles September 30, 2013

    We’re 5 payments away from completing our debt management program. That’s just the starting point for looking out for “future Travis.” But, it’s more than that….being a father I’m also working for the future of my kids as well. 🙂
    Travis @Debtchronicles recently posted…You Can’t Out Earn Bad Spending HabitsMy Profile

    • Lisa E. September 30, 2013

      Wow, 5 payments away? That’s impressive! I love that you are working for the future of your kids, too – what a great dad!

    • Kylie Ofiu September 30, 2013

      Just 5 payments, I am SOOOOO excited for you Travis. That is awesome. You and Vonnie must be so pumped to be so close. You are both an amazing example to your kids. xx
      Kylie Ofiu recently posted…Flipping a car for cashMy Profile

    • Travis @Debtchronicles October 1, 2013

      Thanks Lisa and Kylie, we get more excited with each passing day – it’s been a LONG 51 months. 🙂
      Travis @Debtchronicles recently posted…You Can’t Out Earn Bad Spending HabitsMy Profile

  4. DC @ Young Adult Money September 30, 2013

    HIMYM is definitely one of my favorite shows! The main thing I’m doing right now is consistently paying down student loan debt and trying to increase my income month-over-month and year-over-year. It has required sacrifices but I have to believe it’s worth it.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…5 Ways to Make Money BloggingMy Profile

    • Lisa E. September 30, 2013

      It’s one of mine, too! The sacrifices of Current You is what will make Future You very content!

  5. Budget and the Beach September 29, 2013

    I should watch this show. Everyone talks about how amazing it is.
    Budget and the Beach recently posted…Link Love/Week in Review 9/27/13My Profile

    • Lisa E. September 30, 2013

      You should! The first few seasons were really, really good.

  6. Shaun Hoobler September 28, 2013

    Hahahah. They look so young in that scene.
    Shaun Hoobler recently posted…app dev empire reviewMy Profile

    • Lisa E. September 30, 2013

      Right?! I look back at pictures of old episodes and it’s crazy how they’ve changed, yet still are so familiar.

  7. Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies September 28, 2013

    Great article, Lisa! Personally, I think I spent too many years living “in the moment” and not caring enough what tomorrow will bring. Especially, while still at Uni. Things have changed. Obviously. I am working hard to make sure that my future self is content and I am solving problems as they come along without delaying the uncomfortable talk (even if it’s with myself). I feel a lot more in control too which is a great feeling.
    Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…3 Things I am not Willing to Give Up or Save Money OnMy Profile

    • Lisa E. September 30, 2013

      Thanks Eva! 🙂 I love that you bring up the “uncomfortable talk” and how it can also be with yourself, I can totally relate! I used to let myself spend and spend without ever really asking myself if the things I was buying were needs.

  8. Kylie Ofiu September 27, 2013

    I love this post. Just yesterday I finally got off my butt to kick start my new fitness program, because my future self will thank me for it. I want to run a marathon, I have to put in the effort.

    I had been sitting there thinking how I had let myself get lazy and if I want to be fit and healthy in the future I need to do something NOW! It is great motivation to think about how your choice now will affect your future self. I do it with my finances and in many other areas of my life.
    Kylie Ofiu recently posted…How much do you spend on car maintenance? Plus 9 tips to help you save!My Profile

    • Lisa E. September 30, 2013

      Thanks Kylie and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      I am with you on working on our fitness! It amazes me how I let myself go so much but now I just need to focus on making the right choices day in and day out to get me back to where I was.

  9. femmefrugality September 27, 2013

    I love this post! It’s got me totally pumped up to do everything I want for future me right now!

    Also, I haven’t been following HIMYM lately, but I’m thinking I’m going to have to tune in to find out who the momma is. (Have they been consistent? Like remember when he went on a date with her roommate but didn’t meet her yet?)
    femmefrugality recently posted…Why Paying for a Cell Phone Upgrade Plan is Just Plain SillyMy Profile

    • Lisa E. September 30, 2013

      Aw thank you 🙂 Future You will be so happy!

      You definitely need to catch up with HIMYM! So far they’ve been very consistent. When they introduced her, my BF went back to one of the older episodes when Ted started teaching and she was in the classroom! (I hope that doesn’t count as a spoiler :))

  10. Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way September 27, 2013

    Ouch you hit me there Lisa “too lazy to exercise”. I really want to be fit, I do work out but not daily and I know I can’t achieve the body that I want when I don’t have any self discipline. Thanks for waking me up! 🙂
    Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way recently posted…What to outsource on your blogMy Profile

    • Lisa E. September 27, 2013

      Believe me, I need to listen to myself regarding exercise haha. I’m so bad at finding the time to do it! I’m thinking about doing a DietBet to motivate me.

  11. Done by Forty September 26, 2013

    I love that show & episode, too. It’s a hilarious commentary on our typically short term thinking.

    Here are some things I will do, in the next seven, to help out future me: join the boxing gym I’ve been contemplating, call a family member, and give a bit more to my church.
    Done by Forty recently posted…How Should FIRE Timeline Affect Asset Allocation?My Profile

    • Lisa E. September 26, 2013

      HIMYM is so great!

      Boxing gyms have always been so intriguing to me, some of my friends are really into it. You should do it! I’d love to hear about your experience.

  12. Michelle September 26, 2013

    Haha I love HIMYM. Definitely one of my favorite shows! What I’m doing today to benefit future Michelle is working on increasing my income and saving as much as I realistically can 🙂
    Michelle recently posted…Fall Finance Tip: Improve Yourself!My Profile

    • Lisa E. September 26, 2013

      Me too! I’m sure Future Michelle would love that 🙂

  13. Savvy Financial Latina September 26, 2013

    I really, really try not to buy things we don’t need. I don’t always succeed, but I think get it right about 90% of the time. I use to be better, but ever since we started earning more, and just having better savings, I think we’ve gotten a bit more comfortable. I already have my 401K savings on automatic deduction. But I think in 2014, I’m going to deduct our ROTH IRA’s contribution every month. $916 every month to a Vanguard money market account. Then when I have accumulated enough money and it’s a good time to buy, I’ll buy the stocks. Or, I may just invest every month to take advantage of dollar cost averaging. I haven’t decided. But this way, the money will be gone, and untouchable.
    I’m not starting in 2013 because our savings are a little funky, since most of the savings right are for a down payment. Once we buy the house, we’ll be in a better situation.
    Savvy Financial Latina recently posted…What I Want Out of Life at 23My Profile

    • Lisa E. September 26, 2013

      I would invest every month – I’m a believer in the power of dollar cost averaging! I wouldn’t invest all at once. Good luck with the house hunting!

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