If you want to get a leg up in the never-ending struggle to increase the balance in your savings account, focus on your emotions not your wallet, says a new study on consumer behavior.
Jennifer Aaker, Ph.D., from Stanford University, Anne-Kathrin Klesse, Ph.D., from Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and Emily Garbinsky, doctoral student in marketing, created five different experiments to see how feelings affected a person’s decision to save money. The results of all five studies showed that we are most likely to put away money for the future when we feel powerful.
Power is in the eye of the beholder, so the study participants were placed in several scenarios known to increase feelings of strength or weakness.
In one session, for example, one group was asked to sit on a tall chair, while others were asked to sit on a low ottoman. They were then given questionnaires that asked,
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among other things, if they wanted to take their study earnings or place them in a savings account. The participants in the tall chairs chose to save more.
“People who feel powerful use saving money as a means to maintain their current state of power,” the researchers said in the study, which was published in the Journal of Consumer Research. “When saving no longer affords individuals the opportunity to maintain power, the effect of power on saving disappears.”
But of course, if you embrace the idea that one form of power is having a nest egg and being able to take care of yourself, it should make it easier to stash away cash.
The next time you find yourself fighting to choose between Bloomingdales and your bank account, think about how you’re feeling about yourself.
For a quick power boost:
1. Watch what you say. Think about how you talk about yourself. Do not put yourself down. Remind yourself of your strengths, talents and achievements. Everyone makes mistakes, so if you are dwelling on a faux pas, focus on solutions instead of self-criticism.
2. Be your own best friend. Unconditionally accept yourself as a desirable, likable, competent person who can handle what life sends her way.
3. Focus on your bright future. Envision your future self in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond and think about making her safe and secure.