The Investment Scientist

Double Your Saving by Seeing Yourself in the Future

Posted on: March 15, 2012

Old Age

Believe it or not, you are a stranger to yourself. That’s the finding of Hal Ersner-Hershfield et al. in their published research detailed in Social Cognitive and Affective Neural Science.

This unconscious assumption of a different self in the future is demonstrated graphically by brain scans. In their study, Ersner-Hershfield et al. found that when people think about their future selves, the same brain region lights up as when they think about strangers. The implication for saving behavior? Saving for the future instinctively feels like giving money away to a stranger. No wonder only 9% of Americans are saving enough for their retirement.

However, all hope is not lost; Research subjects who are confronted with vivid visual images of themselves that have been digitally aged often freak out – “Whoa, I look like Grandma.” But they more than double the money they say they would put aside for retirement.

How can you use this research? If you find yourself having a strong disinclination to save, you can invest in a $0.99 iPhone app called AgingBooth. Use it to take a picture of yourself and let it age digitally. Once you can see yourself in the future, you might care more about him or her. You might be willing to put more money aside for his or her benefit.

Get my white paper: The Informed Investor: 5 Key Concepts for Financial Success.

2 Responses to "Double Your Saving by Seeing Yourself in the Future"

Interesting. I wrote about your post on my blog.


Thanks for the mention. We should get together sometimes, we are so close.


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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.

Twitter: @mzhuang

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