3 Reasons to Swipe Right on Our Future Selves

by | Aug 16, 2021 | Own

Did you know that technology like the FaceApp wasn’t made simply to be a gimmick to get people to share viral social media content? It started with a team of researchers at Stanford studying our ability to identify with ourselves 20-30 years in the future and how that affects our willingness to save for retirement. Turns out, we don’t relate to that future self. But with computer generated older versions of ourselves, the research subjects eventually became more willing to save for that future version of themselves! 

This phenomenon is covered in more detail in the Retirement episode of the excellent Netflix limited series called Money, Explained.

Here’s 3 benefits I believe we can all experience by learning to love our older selves.

Rearview mirror view while driving into the mountains

1. Increase our savings rate by getting better at what researchers call “future self-continuity.”

Essentially, delayed gratification for our future selves is easier when that person feels real to us. According to the Stanford study, “to people estranged from their future selves, saving is like a choice between spending money today or giving it to a stranger years from now.” Let’s reverse that natural tendency and start practicing compassion for the person we’ll be 30 years from now.

CHALLENGE EXERCISE: download an app like Aging Booth to get a glimpse of your future self, and take a few minutes to think about your future self’s hobbies, interests, and daily routines.

woman looks at her reflection with love

2. Become more accepting of our flaws today by accepting the flaws of our future selves.

When I look at the 71-year-old version of myself, it has a way of snapping me into the present and appreciating what I have right now. Sure, I don’t have a six-pack or perfect skin. But my body and mind are in much better shape today than they’ll be in 30 years. We are always changing. And the person we were at 20 is not the same person we’ll be at 30, 40, or beyond.

CHALLENGE EXERCISE: take a walk or run and reflect on any mindless spending you might do out of a need to overcompensate for your imperfections.

sitting with a senior for coffee

3. Develop empathy for the seniors around us.

This Saturday, August 21 is National Senior Citizens Day. I’ve been told that no one likes to be called a senior citizen, so we’ll just call them “seniors.” According to NationalToday, someone is considered to be a senior when they’re between the ages of 60 and 80 years old. To celebrate National Seniors Day, offer to buy coffee for an elder in line at the coffee shop, visit an older friend or relative, or pay attention when you see an elder who might be in need.

CHALLENGE EXERCISE: transfer your newfound “future self-continuity” into a deeper compassion for a senior who you come in contact with this week.

And here’s a bonus spreadsheet!

Lastly, if you’d like to play around with how you’d like to reallocate your spending in retirement, here’s a spreadsheet I like to use to daydream about how my future spending might look. I don’t know about you, but I find this to be a really fun exercise to take money that would normally go toward savings and gas for our daily work commute and move them into more of the “fun” categories. Personally, some of the splurges I have planned for my golden years: more travel, more meals out, and more massages!

I should note, the $130,000 lifestyle (below) that USA Today wrote about in 2014 is definitely not a life of conscious spending and financial hygiene. But if someone was  living that same life today, it would actually cost them $146,000 according to a Cost of Living Calculator by the American Institute for Economic Research.

screenshot of retirement lifestyle Excel spreadsheet

In what areas would you most like to spend more money in your golden years? Tell us in the comments or make a post in my HomoMoneymakers Facebook group. I’d love to see your senior citizen photo and hear more about how you envision yourself enjoying your retirement.


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