Sentimental objects like stuffed animals or old jewelry are reminders to save, study finds
Memories equal more money.
Thinking about why you saved old items like stuffed animals, baby blankets and grandma’s precious pearl necklace could give you more of an emotional incentive to save money, a study released Thursday by Capital One found.
More than two-thirds of people (67%) who incorporated nostalgic items into financial planning for vacation and retirement increased the amount they saved, as compared to just 22% of people who took a boring finance seminar, the “Banking Reimagined Savings Study,” led by financial psychologist Dr. Brad Klontz, shows.
The three week study, conducted in five cities — Seattle, Boston, Austin, Dallas and Atlanta — randomly assigned participants into one of two groups: the sentimental item group and the control group, and compared the results from the two.
The sentimental item group was tasked to bring in an object they saved with meaning behind it — like an old black and white photo or jewelry that was passed down for generations — and write down feelings associated with it. Then they were told to jot down savings goals like college funds or upcoming trips.
“We wanted to get them in touch with the value associated with the items, like a connection to family, security, safety or sense of adventure,” Klontz tells Moneyish.
“We were able to engage their emotional brains in a way to make savings mean something. We had them get really specific, for example, saving for a vacation because time with family is important,” says Kontz.
The control group sat through a financial education lecture that gave tips on how to save without any emotional engagement. Only 22% increased their savings three weeks later.
If maintained over the course of the year, this emotional change could represent $10,020 in annual savings on average, compared to the $5,838 in annual savings on average prior to the study. The sentimental group’s confidence in their ability to save increased twice as much as the control group.
“It goes against our wiring to save to begin with. We’re sort of wired to consume now and not worry about the future. This is something we need to do for our own benefit by trying to find ways we can get emotionally engaged,” says Klontz.
Here are other ways you can get more emotionally attached to saving money:
Create visual motivators
“Get specific about what it is you’re saving for. What do you truly want and what would it feel like. Cut a picture out of a magazine and put it on your mirror or wallpaper of your smart phone that you see daily,” suggests Klontz. “Those types of visual images keep us motivated and tap into that emotional brains.”
Name your accounts
Having just a “Savings” and Checking” isn’t descriptive enough for shorter term financial goals you want to achieve. Klontz suggests making sub accounts and naming them accordingly. If you’re saving for your child’s soccer team, or study abroad program put your child’s name on the fund along with the intended cause.
“Make it something that’s really exciting that ties into your value and put a date on it,” suggests Klontz.
Make your life easy and schedule automated deposits into your desired sub savings account. “Set a dollar amount for every month or every week. Take that commitment and execute it in a way that works for you so the money gets transferred to that account”
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