Would Seeing an Older Version of You Make You Save For Retirement?

//Would Seeing an Older Version of You Make You Save For Retirement?

Would Seeing an Older Version of You Make You Save For Retirement?

Would seeing an older version of yourself make you save more for retirement? I am not talking about a cartoon older version of yourself, instead a legitimate rendering using the same technology “they” use to produce an older rendering of a missing child.  Lauren Barack explores this issue in an article titled, “Saving For Retirement with an Avatar” found in the financial industry magazine, RegisteredRep.

The article describes how global powerhouse Allianz is trying to apply that technology to personal finances and investments,

Cathy Smith has spent months talking about aging — how many wrinkles someone may have when he’s 65 years old, the circles under his eyes, even hairlines. No, she’s not an expert in plastic surgery. Nor is she a makeup artist. Smith is the co-director at Allianz Global Investor Center for Behavioral Science. And her work? To help Allianz craft a tool that will virtually age investors in moments, in hopes it’ll be the push they need to take their retirement plans seriously.


As digital tools become more commonplace in retirement planning, helping reps visualize how a client’s financial plans are materializing, a new tool is expected to bring those later years into another kind of focus. Instead of clients seeing their investments mature, Allianz wants investors to see themselves mature as well — in physical terms.

While the statistics they use seem laughable something just resonates with the conclusion being true.  Specifically,

Three studies from Stanford University, the last in 2010, showed college students who were virtually aged by about 45 years put away more money into a hypothetical retirement account than students who didn’t get to meet their older selves.

In the research, 50 college-aged participants were told they’d unexpectedly received $1,000 and were asked to divide the money into four buckets: retirement, a checking account, a nice gift for a friend or loved one, or on a special and expensive outing. Students then donned virtual reality goggles, with a select group shown a version of their 70-year-old selves. Afterwards, they were asked to divide up their money. The results showed that students who virtually met their aged avatars saved twice as much for retirement versus participants who only met their current selves.

I am not sure how many people really read that statistic in the magazine, but what kind of study only has 50 participants nevertheless between 3 studies.  What happened in the other 2 studies? Ignoring the studies, doesn’t the conclusion just seem correct.

I believe it is human nature to avoid negative repercussions and thus showing someone an older version of one’s self we would that to believe that the person is well taken care of, otherwise, because our only other option would be to pray for Doc Brown and the flux capacitor.

Would Numbers or an Older Version of You Make You More Aggressive in Saving for Retirement?

We all know that personal finance is personal and seeing I think this upcoming technology can revolutionize Retirement Planning but it makes me wonder about what is more effective:

  • A Spreadsheet/Document which shows just how far away the goal of a comfortable retirement is OR
  • A picture/avatar of Future Evan

For me, personally, I would guess the spreadsheet, but I don’t think I am particularly normal when it comes to personal finance issues.  I mean I do run a boring bad ass personal finance blog.


What would get you moving more – a picture of your future self or a spreadsheet that shows you are broke?

By |2014-06-15T21:40:41+00:00May 15th, 2012|Qualified/Retirement|10 Comments

About the Author:

Evan is the owner of My Journey to Millions which was started to track his journey from a broke debt ridden law school graduate to building a positive balance. Need more Evan? Follow him on Twitter, Contact him or get new posts directly to your email


  1. Jeff May 15, 2012 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I think this could be a good tool – retirement isnt “real” to a lot of young people – but meeting their future self could make it a lot more real. You wouldnt want to see that person eating ALPO would you?

    • Evan June 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm - Reply

      Or maybe that would motivate someone even more!

  2. Michelle May 15, 2012 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Seeing an older version of myself would definitely help me save. However, if my future self won the lottery then that will be a different story.

    • Evan June 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      HAHAHAHHAH we can all dream!

  3. Marie May 15, 2012 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Seeing an older version of myself would help me make better lifestyle choices (sunscreen, less ice cream, etc) but probably not better money choices.

    • Evan June 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Why the distinction?

  4. Jenna May 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Yikes! Not sure if seeing myself aged would make me save more money but seeing a price tag between someone living the dream retirement (travel, nice house, etc) and the price tag of what social security will be when I retire would inspire me to save more.

    • Evan June 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      So for you it is more the numbers about freedom

  5. Darwin's Money May 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    Seeing an older version of myself would probably make me pretty depressed. If that’s what the data shows though, so be it, maybe it’s effective!

    • Evan June 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      I am not sure it would have that much affect on me either…I think like Jenna it is all about the numbers for me

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