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This Is Your Brain On Savings

Learn how getting sentimental can increase your financial savings.

Earlier this year, Capital One partnered with Creighton University financial psychologist Dr. Brad Klontz and discovered something groundbreaking about emotional connections and sentimentality: these relationships could be tied to money, and more specifically, to saving it.

Klontz separated participants from Boston, Austin, Seattle, Atlanta, and Dallas into two groups—a “control” group and a “sentimental” group—and asked the latter group to bring a nostalgic item they’d kept over time for sentimental reasons. The sentimental group was given an immersive and emotional presentation with exercises that revolved around their nostalgic items. The control group was given a standard financial education presentation with no emotional engagement.

Three weeks later, the sentimental group reported that they’d increased their savings by three times (67%) more than the control group (22%). If maintained over the course of the year, the change will represent $10,020 in annual savings on average (compared to the reported pre-study average of $5,838). In Dallas, the sentimental group reported a 115% increase rate in savings from pre-experiment levels (and the only city in the study that reported a bigger increase was Atlanta, at 137%).

Here are some tips from Dr. Klontz’s study to help better inform your own savings habits:

1. Connect Your Memories With Your Values

You keep items that hold important memories or personal connections, and you can apply this same philosophy to saving money. Ask yourself what kind of feelings and values are associated with items you keep for sentimental value, and then use those feelings to determine how to live today in line with the same values. Then think even further—how can you improve your savings behaviors so that you’ll have sentimental items and experiences to pass on to future generations?

2. Create Visual Money Motivators

Sometimes it helps to visualize a prize to keep your eye on, and the same can be said on items, occasions or whatever else you might save up for. Consider cutting out pictures from a magazine that depicts your goal, or set a related image as your desktop background or screensaver. Have a “2018 European Family Vacation Account.” There are lots of ways to get planning, and you can ask yourself the following questions to inform your saving strategy:

  • What would saving for the future get you?
  • What is it that you truly want, and what does that look like?
  • How would it feel to have it?
  • Who might be able to enjoy it with you?

3. Automate Your Motivation

When you’re serious about saving money, set up a monthly contribution from your checking account to a high-rate savings account. With flexible, fee-free online and mobile banking, you’ll have the tools you need for impressive and long-term savings growth.