Have you spoken to your future self lately? According to UCLA Professor Hal Hershfield, we often feel disconnected from the people we will become in the future. In essence, our future selves are strangers to us. Envisioning ourselves in the future, says Hershfield, helps us save more money and make better financial decisions.
In Hershfield’s research, participants were shown computer-aged avatars of their current selves. Then they were asked to make a choice of how to spend $1,000: buying a gift for a friend/family member, investing in a retirement fund, planning a fun event, or saving money at the bank. Participants who had seen the vivid digital image of their future selves were twice as likely to put money into the retirement fund.
I am guessing that if you had a conversation with Future You right now, he or she might have some pretty challenging questions for you. Here are some things Future You might ask you. How would you answer?
- Have I turned out the way you thought I would?
- How did you manage to save so much for retirement? Tell me how you did it.
- I’ve got more money now than I need to live comfortably. How should I put it to the best use?
- That was a great investment! Tell me how you chose it.
- Who was your financial role model?
- How did you decide to choose our career?
Future You could also have some recriminations, such as:
- When are you going to pay me back all the money you borrowed from me?
- Were those student loans worth it?
- He/she didn’t turn out to be a great financial life partner. What were you thinking?
- You spent that much on shoes/cocktails/gambling? Why?!!
Does having a frank conversation with your future self sound like just the thing you need to get you motivated to change your financial behaviors? Hershfield’s digital avatar creator isn’t available for public use. However, you can create an aged photo of yourself with age progression apps such as In 20 Years, Age Me, or Hour Face.
The Future Self in my blog photo? That’s our CEO’s son Jay, age 7, who is envisioning himself at 100. You know he’ll make some great financial decisions. Will you?