Web Wealth: Saving for the future

Face Retirement "ages" photos to approximate one's future self.
Face Retirement "ages" photos to approximate one's future self.
Posted: January 28, 2013

Saving money is hard, experts say, because you don't relate to your "future self." Saving would be easier if you had more sympathy for that far-off old person that you are becoming.

An "Investing 101" post in the Breakout section of Yahoo Finance, includes a video demonstrating one of several web tools that alters a photo of your face to show what you might look like at retirement age or beyond. The gimmick is meant to get people to identify with who they will be years from now - and to give that old person money.


Face Retirement, a page at the Merrill Edge site, takes a photo of you, using your computer's camera, then purports to age you by 10, 20 or up to 50 years. You can read guesstimates of what you're aged self will be paying for gasoline, and you may share the doctored photos on Facebook. Oh, and you'll be invited to open a Merrill retirement account.


"People may fail, because of a lack of belief or imagination, to identify with their future selves," say Stanford University researchers who have popularized the idea. Here's a report by those researchers:


Job tips for your future self, offered at the Voice of Jobseekers site, are meant to get you to think way ahead about your career. For job hunters, this means such things as controlling your online profile, being objective about your ability to do a job you're applying for and not making salary the most important factor in a job decision.


Additional future-self advice from the Voice of Jobseekers site is here:


Daniel Goldstein is one of those Stanford behavioral researchers working on how we relate to a future self. In a video of his brief presentation to a technology conference, Goldstein describes "the battle between your present and future self" and the possible need for "commitment devices" to spur you to save or do other things to reward yourself in the future. Goldstein advocates tools such as the Face Retirement photos described above and explains why they work.


Contact Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114, rkanaley@phillynews.com or @ReidKan on Twitter.

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