You may have heard about the marshmallow test, a social science test created in the 1970s by Walter Mischel.
Put a marshmallow in front of a child and let him or her know that they can either have the marshmallow now, or if they wait until the researcher returns into the room, they can have extra treats.
Allegedly (because there has been some recent controversy surrounding the setup) those who delayed their gratification ended up being more successful in life. So as we struggle with COVID-19, let’s think about some areas where it may make sense to wait until later to buy because the deals are coming.
Remember those popular NordicTrac ski machines? If you owned one, it undoubtedly turned into a clothesline in your basement. With people still afraid to go to health clubs, finding athletic equipment is like mining for gold. But wait a year and your Craigslist-outfitted home gym will cost you a fraction of today’s price.
Figure out what you need to just get by until impulsively purchased weight benches, treadmills and elliptical machines begin to gather dust and become available.
It is sad to say, but there are a lot of people who had no idea what they were getting into when they bought that puppy. We have always had dogs, so when our shepherd died in January, we became proud owners of a COVID collie.
But we had forgotten how much work raising a puppy is. Some people didn’t realize the responsibilities that come with pet ownership, and I suspect that when the Humane Society is fully operational, there will be an abundance of pandemic pets from which to choose.
There is no doubt that the job market is being dislocated. It is hard to measure to what extent yet, but even when the economy fully reopens, there will be significant unemployment.
A shift in housing demand
Anecdotally, we have seen more adult kids move home in the last few months than we saw in the recession of 2008-2009. Coincidentally, there has also been no shortage of new apartments going up. That means that deals will be coming — at every level. Watch for lots of enticements as landlords want to fill up their ballooning vacancies.
Here is something to think about: If remote work is going to continue even after a vaccine has been created, is it likely that people will choose to live wherever they want?
If your commute goes from your bedroom to your home office, why not consider living farther out in an area that you will love where you can get more space? Some people love the benefits of living close in, but if you are not one of those and have flexibility, say goodbye.
I know an accountant who does his remote work from Otter Tail County and comes in a couple of times a month to see clients. This will probably become more of the rule rather than the exception. Spending less for more becomes an option.
If you don’t want to own a second home but want to tour the country, you will soon be getting deals on used recreational vehicles. People have turned to RVs as a safe way to travel, but owning an RV still takes some work.
While our favorite trip with our children when they were young was renting an RV and touring the national parks, it is likely that several people who jumped on this bandwagon and bought an RV will be reconsidering. In a couple of years, you may make someone a happy camper when you buy their RV.
Unfortunately, many restaurants won’t be reopening or will hang on by their fingernails before they decide to pack it up. Margins are simply not high enough for many of them to survive without being full and selling liquor.
And while some people think the restaurant business is a glamorous pursuit in which to get involved, financing for new restaurants will probably be tough to get. That means there will be lots of professional cookware and commercial furniture that will come on the market.
It is no surprise that we are seeing many retailers filing for bankruptcy. While jumping on closeout sales now is fine, I don’t expect these deals to evaporate any time soon.
People have changed their shopping habits in ways that are going to continue to pressure retail. Everyday low prices will be occurring at far more spots than Walmart.
Even if you love marshmallows, delaying your gratification in these times will reap big benefits.
Ross Levin is the chief executive and founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.