Face Retirement: Psychology to Spur Long-Term Financial Planning

December 12, 2012

Virtually everyone agrees that it is important to invest for retirement, take care of inheritance details, prepare for long-term care, and otherwise plan for the future. But there is a big difference between understanding the value of these tasks and actually taking the time to do it. Considering the financial and political stresses that come with caring for an aging population, figuring out how to motivate community members to do what is necessary to plan for the future is drawing more and more attention.

One new tactic stems from unique psychological research on financial motivation. In previous studies out of Stanford, experts found that one way to spur real action on long-term planning was getting individuals to visualize their future, elderly selves. Interestingly the researchers found the most benefit not when people just imagined themselves in old age but actually saw digitally enhanced images of themselves when they were older. The surprise of seeing their own face in old age was a real spur to stop putting off the necessary planning.

The lead researcher in the Stanford experiment summarized that, "People who see an age-progressed rendering of themselves are more likely to allocate resources to the future."

See For Yourself
In fact, interest in this technique has advanced to the point that Bank of America's "Merril Edge" program allows anyone to go online, take a picture of themselves, and see how they might look in the future. The tool is known as "Face Retirement." You can check it out for yourself here.

The program allows you to view images of yourself at various ages. On top of that, the tool provides estimated cost of living figures for each of those ages. Those cost of living calculators adjust for inflation so that consumers have a real idea of what they'll need to do to be financially secure well into their golden years. Perhaps expectedly, considering the tool was created by a financial services firm, the program also provides information about steps that can be taken now to prepare for the future.

Action Matters
No matter what you use to motivate yourself to plan for the future, the bottom line is that there is nothing to lose from taking action today. Thinking about money is always stressful. That is particularly true when worrying about retirement and other end-of-life issues. But it is important not to forget that the easiest way to ease the stress burden is to actually do something about it. No matter what your current financial situation--good or bad--there is value to beginning the process of long-term planning.

If you are in New York City, Albany, Fishkill, MIddletown, Nyack, Rhinebeck, Saratoga Springs, White Plains, or elsewhere throughout our state, please feel free to reach out to the attorneys at our firm to see how we can help.