Are you saving too much? You might regret it!

27 March 2009

http://img242.imageshack.us/img242/527/44861159pigpull51287854.jpgIn an economic recession, most of us are looking to save more money, not less. But according to consumer psychologists from Harvard and Columbia University, this "overcompensation" can lead to a psychological hyperopia (the medical term usually used for farsightedness, opposite of myopia) where one becomes too worried about the future instead of living inthe present.

This is because obesession with planning for the future means that you aren't enjoying the power of now, which according to Eckhart Tolle anyway, is where all the magic happens. And as the NYT quotes Dr. Kivetz of Columbia University:

Splurging on a vacation or a pair of shoes or a plasma television can produce an immediate case of buyer's remorse, but that feeling isn't permanent, according to Ran Kivetz of Columbia University and Anat Keinan of Harvard. In one study, these consumer psychologists asked college students how they felt about the balance of work and play on their winter breaks.

Immediately after the break, the students' chief regrets were over not doing enough studying, working and saving money. But when they contemplated their winter break a year afterward, they were more likely to regret not having enough fun, not traveling and not spending money. And when alumni returned for their 40th reunion, they had even stronger regrets about too much work and not enough play on their collegiate breaks.

"People feel guilty about hedonism right afterwards, but as time passes the guilt dissipates," said Dr. Kivetz, a professor of marketing at the Columbia Business School. "At some point there's a reversal, and what builds up is this wistful feeling of missing out on life's pleasures."

But finding the balance between 'living now' and 'investing in your future' is a sensitive and somewhat subjective scale. Some people prefer to indulge in the present, while others will always prefer the simple and frugal. As active consumers, how do you find the balance between having 'fun' while staying within a budget of what you can afford, and saving for the future without bankrupting the rainy day account? Let's hear your thoughts.

Oversaving, a Burden for Our Times [NY Times]

Original Paper [PDF]

14 comments

  • Lumoruk
    I'm saving saving saving baby, but soon I'll be spending spending spending yeah!
  • Acecatcher3
    I'm saving for UNi so it will b worth it I think!
  • andy y.
    All assets will be confiscated by the mob and/or elite powers.So enjoy what you can while you can
  • Peter S.
    I don't save anything since I retired.
  • ...
    I thought BWs quality of writing had finally improved... then found it's just an article they found on another website.
  • tinop
    I saved saved saved and saved. Now I am in my early 30s and partly retired - while most (if not all )of my friends still work work and work. Most dont like their jobs but they say that they have no choice.
  • Grant
    I spent spent spent. I'm in my early 40s and have had to return to work. I hate my job, but my 20s and 30s were a blast.
  • Rash
    Do these stupid professors have nothing better to do????
  • bidrick
    Gorden Brown's gang will soon put a stop to all your nasty savings habits
  • Tinop
    bidrick. And if I was to keep on spending, do you think Gordon Brown will bail me out with your money?
  • John
    It does irritate me at times when the government discourages saving, a few years back I was made redundant (company went into administration) and had to apply for Job-seeker's allowance. During the process I had to declare my various savings which were all relatively healthy as I knew the company wasn't doing well and I always keep a decent buffer in case anything happens. However that counted against me as those who blew all their money every month and didn't save a penny received more money than I did because I had a decent amount of savings. It's no wonder we're in the mess we are.
  • Fred C.
    Surely there is no need finding the balance between ‘living now’ and ‘investing in your future’ . If you line up the tens of billion of people on this planet from "living now" to "investing in your future", nature intends maximum survival for the human species by a huge range of different approaches.
  • Jonathan
    With quantitative easing cominng in all savings will be devalued as more money dilutes money's value. Us saveres are getting shafted!
  • sevenjobs
    We do not save for the future, but we try to optimize our expenditures. Because we need the optimum of money now, there is nothing left for normal saving. So each time we want to buy something we first ask: is this really needful? is it possible to buy later? Is it niceToHave? This courses a lot of discussions because what 'needful' is , depends if your are an adult or a child :-)

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