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.
Think about how amazing it would be to get a surprise from the past. From yourself. “Send your future self some words of inspiration or comfort. 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.
Financial Planning for Your Future Self
Maybe you write a letter to make a prediction about your life, your family, your friends and what will be happening in a year, two years, five years or more.
Well, you can write to yourself on any subject, of course – personal, professional, familial. But 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 time comes.
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 that.”
Our Current Selves are Not Saving
The fact is, Americans just aren’t saving enough. According to Northwestern Mutual’s 2019 Planning & Progress Study:
A shocking 22% of Americans have less than $5,000 in savings for retirement.
Another 5% have between $5,000 and $25,000 put away.
Only 17% of the Baby Boomers, those that are between the ages of 55 and 73 and the generation that is either close to or in retirement, have less than $5,000 in retirement savings, 46% say they don’t even know how much they have saved for retirement.
45% of respondents believe that they will outlive their retirement savings.
Nobody Can Give You Wiser Advice
In your email, explain to future self why your current feelings about money and your financial tomorrow are important.
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.
Things to Email Your Future Self
Schedule the email to arrive the day before you face your next savings decision, perhaps a payday. Options to suggest to your future self include:
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 financial future.
In addition, 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.