Retirement is real, logic tells us, and we ought to save up for it. We know we can’t work and earn money forever. Yet many of us behave as if our present-day selves -- healthy, youngish, collecting a paycheck – will never cease to be.
Hershfield and a group of researchers wanted to help people visualize their future selves more vividly, so that maybe, they’d take better care of themselves in the present. They gave college students special goggles and put them in a virtual reality lab, where each saw a realistic image of their own old age: a 3-D face with gray hair, wrinkles, sagging jowls – pushing seventy, yet strikingly familiar. Participants were encouraged to “interview” their future selves: How did they feel about retirement, what mattered most to them, and what did they still want to accomplish?
The experiment worked. Study participants, along with a control group, next took a survey about finances and retirement. Those who had seen their older selves were willing to put twice as much money into long-term savings accounts as those who had seen only their current selves. See Hershfield’s Ted Talk here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJotBbd7MwQ
Close to 1 in 3 retired Americans (30%) regret not saving more aggressively for retirement. More than half of retired Americans (54%) have regrets of some type when it comes to saving for retirement.
Hershfield believes that if more of us could feel closer to our future selves, we’d make decisions today that would make our future lives much happier.
Those virtual reality goggles are still hard to come by. But we can develop a more vivid image of our future selves, by simply bringing the intention into our relationships, conversations, and spiritual practice. Psychologists call the concept “future self-continuity” and say that people who have it are more willing to wait for future rewards. (Which takes us straight to the teachings of Christ, wouldn’t you say?)
• Create a vision board. Cut out photos and phrases representing the happily retired person you want to be, and make a collage. The key is to spend an hour or two doing this, so that the images sink in.
• Write a letter to your future self. This really works. One coach recommends corresponding with your future self at least once a week. The key is to develop a true caring relationship with the person you want to become.
• You can even write and email to your future self, and schedule it for delivery in 6 months, 5 years, or at age 50. https://www.futureme.org/
Of course, there’s another way to overcome the psychological barriers that keep us from preparing for retirement:
Do the math.
Your decision to start today could give you more savings at retirement than starting five years from now.
Potential growth if you contribute $100 of your paycheck monthly
See them here:
Retirement planning made easy.
The Church Pension Group LINK https://www.cpg.org/global/about-us/about-cpg?ref=dropdown makes it easy for Episcopal clergy and lay staff to take part in pension and retirement savings plans that can maximize financial security at retirement. Programs include:
1. The Clergy Pension Plan is available to eligible ordained bishops, priests, and deacons who are canonically resident in a domestic diocese, with certain qualifications.
2. The Episcopal Church Retirement Savings Plan (RSVP) is a Section 403(b)(9) plan. It works much like the 401(k) plans offered by many for-profit companies. Clergy members may participate in both the Church Pension Plan and the RSVP.
3. The Episcopal Church Lay Employees’ Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (Lay DC Plan) is divided into two distinct defined contribution retirement plans: one of which is designed to satisfy Section 401(a) of the Code, and the second of which is designed to satisfy Section 403(b)(9) of the Code.