Saving for the future has the power to actually make us happier, according to a ground-breaking neuroscience study commissioned by Standard Life.
Saving in Mind looked at the relationship between emotions and saving behaviour using a combination of neuroimaging techniques and benchmarking questionnaires, analysing participants' attitudes towards saving and how they feel about their financial futures.
It's thought to be the first UK study of its kind to look at the emotions associated with saving, and the results are encouraging.
The research shows that, although people tend to be initially anxious when they think about money and their future, when they do save they're significantly more confident, calmer and optimistic. Additionally, those who take control of their finances are ten times more confident about their financial futures than those who don't.
Meanwhile, positive and helpful communication about saving stimulates dopamine, and actively thinking about (and planning for) our family's financial wellbeing can release oxytocin. Both are key hormones associated with feelings of happiness and reduced anxiety, showing that saving actually has an effect on a physiological level – it really does make us happier.
The findings could have great implications for the industry too, with the key message being that savings providers need to understand the role of emotion in the sector to help support their customers.
Positively-toned information about saving, combined with friendly, simple guidance on how to go about it, can significantly change the way customers feel and could encourage them to save for a comfortable later life. The future of savings communication therefore needs to be optimistic and personal rather than negative and scaremongering, as eliciting a "fear factor" response was least likely to help people.
And, given that those who check their finances on a regular basis are more confident about their financial futures, it just shows the importance of being proactive and getting into a regular savings habit to plan ahead.
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