Advising Your Future Self
Submitted by Larry Frank Sr. on Tue, 05/20/2014 - 3:00pm
How do you encourage yourself to do something that you swear today
you’re going to do? Easy: Send yourself an email today for delivery to you
in the future.
“Send your future self some words of inspiration. Or maybe a swift kick in
the pants,” reads the introduction on futureme.org, where you write and
store emails to yourself for eventual, scheduled delivery.
You can write to yourself on any subject, of course – personal,
professional, familial. How can you use this tool to commit yourself to a
financial or savings plan?
Our memories are pretty short. We’re sure today that we’ll remember to
do something in years ahead or that we’ll stay committed to take some
action to help ourselves. Then the good intention slips our mind when the
Want to save your income tax refund? Pay off your debt and begin to save
money instead of yet again spending it? How many times, when blessed
with such good ideas, did you say to yourself, “This year I’m going to do
Don’t beat yourself up. According to a recent survey by America Saves
and the American Savings Education Council, only slightly more than half
(54%) of Americans have a savings plan with specific goals.
Most (57%) also lack a savings plan or don't save automatically (59%).
About half (51%) don’t save enough for a comfortable retirement.
In your email, explain to future self why your current feelings about money
and your financial tomorrow are important.In your email, explain to future
self why your current feelings about money and your financial tomorrow
Let’s say you always feel cash-strapped now and can’t seem to save
anything. When you get money, you always pay off old debt or spend the
cash fast. You know you want to save – it’s just that when the time
comes to fill out the deposit slip or set up the automatic transfer your
penniless panic takes over and you forget your thrifty intentions.
Your money evaporates, leaving you with those same old feelings. Again
you swear you’ll save and again you spend.
“Nobody,” said the Roman scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero, “can give you
wiser advice than yourself.” In your email, express your current
frustration with yourself in your own words.
Schedule the email to arrive the day before you face your next savings
decision, perhaps a payday. Options to suggest to your future self
All possible courses of action – in this case, savings tools to
explore and use.
Organizing your own future excuses to spend – and the good
reasons to not follow them.
Cheap ways to get your mind off money problems, such as
exercise, listening to music or artistic expression.
Also slate your message to arrive multiple times around when you will
need to decide to sock away money. Maybe it will take a couple of times
but your messages to yourself will take hold. You can change your own
Also schedule congratulatory emails to your future self, along with notes
of encouragement to keep your savings going. Keep ratcheting up the
encouragement further and further into your future.
Eventually you may reach a completely different and positive financial
situation with a completely different outlook and set of possibilities and
choices. You will then have yourself to thank.
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Larry R. Frank Sr., CFP, is a Registered Investment Adviser (California)
in Roseville, Calif. He is the author of the book, Wealth Odyssey. He has
an MBA with a finance concentration and B.S. cum laude in physics with
which he views the world of money dynamically. He has peer-reviewed
research published in the Journal of Financial Planning.
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