be kind to your future self

Science may help support your savings journey and provide your future self with the gift of a secure retirement. Research has found that people who interact with digital images of their older selves tend to make better long-term decisions and save more for retirement.

Most of us know that saving for our future is important, but getting started on the savings journey, and sticking with it, can be easier said than done.

Some behaviours that we can adopt for our long-term wellbeing – from saving money to caring for our health – involve trading off other immediate pleasures and rewards. And as humans, we aren’t always good at delayed gratification.

However, research out of the US has found there may be a unique way to help achieve a long-term goal like saving for retirement that involves empathising with your future self.

Picture yourself

Professor Hal Hershfield found that people who interacted with digitally aged photographs of themselves chose to save more of their pay for their retirement than those who hadn’t been shown such images. 

Prof Hershfield and his team took pictures of people with happy, sad and neutral expressions and inserted them into a retirement-savings slider tool. The idea was to show users how their decisions affected both their future income and their wellbeing in old age. 

Some subjects used the tool with pictures of themselves that had been aged. They set aside 6.8 percent on average of their pay for retirement, versus 5.2 percent for those using a tool with pictures of their current selves.

The research suggests that our brains perceive our future self as an entirely different person. If we think of ourselves like strangers, it can follow that we act in a more selfish or disinterested way toward ourselves. However, if we think of our future selves as someone to whom we are close, we may be happier to take steps for their benefit.

Imagine your future self at the point of retirement. They’ll be you, but older. Imagine what that will feel like. Will your values and priorities be the same as they are now, or different? 

Future you

Other research has found that people who wrote letters to themselves 20 years into the future made better long-term decisions in relation to their health. 

You may wish to ask yourself questions about your future priorities and consider what you might require to be comfortable in retirement.

When you retire, where do you want to live, and what do you want to do with your time? Once you’ve worked out the type of lifestyle you are aiming for, you may be able to determine the retirement income you’ll need.

Seek advice

This research indicates that imagining yourself in the shoes of future you may help you save more for retirement. Now might be the time to get practical and establish financial supports to look after your future self to help you live your best life.

It’s a good idea to check if your super will provide the retirement income you need. If you think you might be falling short of your retirement income goals, there are ways to get back on track. 

Making extra contributions to super, if you can afford to do so, may be a good way to boost your savings and may also have tax benefits, depending on your income.

If you require advice on your retirement needs, please contact one of Active Super’s financial planners. Feel free to contact us on 1300 547 873 or make an appointment to see how we can help.* 

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