The April issue of Glamour Magazine features a short piece by Suzy Welch explaining the theory behind the 10-10-10 rule. The rule is simple: before you make a decision, ask yourself: “What will the consequences of my options be in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years?” Then act accordingly.

In her example, she describes a time she took her 2 young kids on a business trip to Hawaii, and it ruined the trip for everyone. If she’d thought about it, her kids would have been unhappy for ten minutes, but the closing the deal would have made her enough money to take them on vacation in 10 months, and in ten years they’d only remember the great trip, not her three-day absence.

Applying the 10-10-10 Rule to Spending
That started me thinking: how could I apply this rule to purchases, both big and small. For example, buying tickets to the Billy Joel/Elton John concert. In ten minutes, I’d have the concert to look forward to. In ten months, I’d have this great memory of this fantastic concern. In 10 years, I’d still have a great memory of a fantastic concert by two men who may not be touring in ten years. Is it worth it? Yes!

Now let’s try another – buying a cheap pair of shoes that are trendy now. In 10 minutes, I’ll have a cute pair of shoes. In 10 months, I’ll have a pair of shoes that are going out of style and may have worn out already. In 10 years, I won’t have the shoes. Was it worth it? Not to me. I don’t expect a pair of shoes to last 10 years, but I certainly want them to last more than 10 months.

Why It Works
Applying the 10-10-10 rule is simple because it relies on your gut. If you have to spend a lot of time thinking of answers to each question, then that’s probably your answer right there. Of course, you can apply the question to major decisions, like: should I buy a car now or wait to save money for a larger down payment? If I buy now, in 10 minutes I’ll have a shiny new car and big car payments. In ten months, I’ll still be making large car payments. In ten years, I’ll be ready to replace it, but will have less money saved for the next car.

If I wait, in 10 minutes I’ll still have a car I hate, but no car payments. In 10 months, I’ll have saved up enough money for a large down payment, or maybe even a whole car. In 10 years, I’ll have one more year before it’s time to replace the car, and more money in my savings. Waiting is clearly the better option in this case.

The rule doesn’t necessarily apply to the most basic purchases, but if you’re trying to learn to control your spending or deciding how to prioritize your time, this is a great tool to rely on until the new habit becomes a habit. You could even ask yourself about your time-wasters. For example, should I watch the new episode of Heroes? In 10 minutes, I’ll be either amused or ticked-off by the show. In 10 months, I won’t care. In 10 years, I’ll barely remember it. Hmmm… maybe it’s time to give up on that show.

Do you use any tools like this? How do you weigh your financial choices?


4 Responses to “The 10-10-10 Rule for Spending”

  1. Macayle on April 16th, 2009 7:46 am

    I use the 10 day rule so you can add this to you 10-10-10 rule, if your like. For more major purchases, and even some minor ones: If I want it I make myself wait for 10 days. Then if I still need (or want) it I can buy it. This really works, as after 10 days you are no longer subject to that impulsive buying urge and have had time to consider if there are other, more important purchases at this time.

    Another rule I try to use when I see something I want, is to calculate how many hours I had to work in order to earn enough money for it. That usually stops me in my tracks on more expensive purchases.

    Thanks for all the great information you share with us!

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  4. Jenni on July 1st, 2015 8:57 pm

    inaminor:我不是很清楚邏輯學, 不過我覺得數學上等價的敘述在數學上應該都可以算 togtolauy, 比如 平面 三角形 和 內角和 180 度的 平面 多邊形 在數學上的內涵是完全相同的, 所以我們可以寫 平面 三角形 iff 內角和 180 度的 平面 多邊形 因此如果寫的嚴謹一點, 三角形的內角和是 180 度我認為可以當作 togtolauy 你說的 定理可以告訴我們一些直覺上無法一眼看出的結果 是沒錯, 不過我之前學高等數學緒論的時候, 書裡面的主張是 togtolauy 不見得是沒有意義的, 因為他可以幫助數學家更完整的了解概念 比如三角形 , 很明顯這個主張蘊含了主張 直不直覺並不是決定一個敘述是不是 togtolauy 的 criterion

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