There is an old (and unresolved) debate among historians that the game of Chess was invented as a way for a King to teach his Generals battlefield tactics.
The King found that the younger headstrong Generals would attack quickly without much of a strategy or consideration for the survivability of his armies. Their idea was that brute force was always the best way.
The older, more experienced Generals would exercise patience, lie in wait for an opponent to expose his jugular, and crush him with a series of well executed counter offensives.
As the younger Generals found out, sometimes the hardest decision to make was the decision not to act, or at least, not to act on their basic impulses. In other words, the best thing for them to do was to be patient, wait for a more favorable opportunity to present itself, and only then should you pounce.
Being a guy in my lower 30s, I’m beginning to see the wisdom in this all encompassing life lesson. No longer do I charge into something without carefully considering the collateral damage, the time invested in the project, or that I might get a better payoff (lower cost, less work, or both) if I just exercise a little more patience.
Exercising a little patience can off big time!
Longtime frugal living advocates probably know this better than I, but here are a few ideas of how I’ve applied the lessons learned from exercising more patience when it comes to my personal finances.
- Wait for high tech to become everyday tech. I like my tech gadgets as much as much as the next guy, but my days of walking through Best Buy as excited as a sixteen year old with a Playboy are over. I’ll wait for the hype to settle, and allow free market competition to lower the price for me. Heck, I may not buy the gadget at all. And for the record, I’m still waiting to play Halo 3!
- Buying off season. Rarely will I buy something during peak season. It has to be a must have item or a situation where saver’s remorse will make me regret not shelling out a few extra bucks for something I really want.
- Buying on the dips. Being an independent trader, I often use a “buy on the dips” strategy where I’m waiting for a short lived bargain in an individual company’s stock price. If a stock has a negative press release, it might drop 15% immediately and slowly make its way back to normal valuation. But this strategy doesn’t have to be limited to the stock market alone since it can be adapted to nearly any situation where there is a bargain hunter and a seller.
- Vulture investing. Vultures have one of the most under appreciated jobs in the animal kingdom. They make a living from recycling the scraps that no one else wants at that time. Vulture investors function in a similar manner, where they can swoop in, buy up the assets at a fraction of the cost while providing somewhat of a benefit to those holding the desired asset (e.g. real estate selling at half price).
- Use time to your advantage. Just like in sports, time can often be used to your advantage to force the hand of your opponent. For example, instead of going to the farmers market early in the morning, go one or two hours just before closing. This way, you might be capable of picking up a bargain since farmers won’t have to pack up their excess product, allow it to go unsold and potentially go to waste. You run the risk of getting no fresh produce, but you may also pick up a few bargains the early birds weren’t offered. It all comes down to knowing your situation and how much risk you’re willing to take.
Got any situations where patience benefited your wallet?