On the “Bring Your Challenges” website, Dale Griffin, Associate Dean, Professor of Marketing at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia discusses the behavioral economics of living longer. He begins his comments with the idea that it is much easier to satisfy your current needs and desires than it is to delay gratification to benefit your future self. He uses behavioral research as an example—a study demonstrated when choosing between something healthy and something sweet, people are likely to eat something sweet now and tell themselves they’ll eat something healthy later. And we tend to have the same habits with saving and financial planning—spend now and save later.
Griffin’s aim is not to depress you, however. He writes:
“Rather than demonizing weak wills and poor self-control, I will point my finger at…behavioral biases that make it so hard to make good decisions about our lives in 20-50 years. These aspects of human psychology are simply part of the thinking machinery, the way the mind works. They are not signs of stupidity or greediness or weakness of will.”
Since, according to Griffin, “…problems that exist in the short term will receive much more attention and generate much more motivation to solve those problems than problems in the long term, even if the problems are equally important,” we need to find ways to “imagine our future self just as concretely and vividly, and take the time to imagine in detail the problems that our future self will encounter.”
While there are online programs that will age your picture to get you to see yourself at retirement ages so you’ll save more, we would recommend the help of a Fee-Only financial planner. You don’t have to tackle retirement planning all on your own. A Fee-Only financial planner is an expert that can help you strategize and offer necessary reminders when your future vision gets cloudy.