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Longevity and Savings Connection

Longevity And Savings Connection

“We may not have a lot of money, but we’ve done better than our parents,” my husband said one recent morning. We were discussing the advantages of being rich vs. poor (in philosophical terms). The chatting began with our concern for younger people coming of age now.

Surprisingly, after a few other observations of how we managed with our limited familial opportunities, he added another. I didn’t expect it.

“I think one of our advantages was 120 years” he explained, referencing a book I wrote (now out-of-print) that was not commercially successful. I was amazed. How could he be thinking THAT helped us, I wondered.

“It wasn’t the money from profit,” he clarified. “It was the belief that we could live long and should plan for longevity.” Never thought of it that way myself, but it seemed plausible.

More than Delay of Gratification

In one of those rare and freaky coincidences in life, not 20 minutes later this idea (which never occurred to me before) was being explained and confirmed. Time to listen up, I thought.

The radio was tuned to the NPR show Your Hidden Brain (August 14 2023), hosted by Shankar Vedantam. Author, Hal Hershfield was discussing findings noted in his book Your Future Self: How to Make Tomorrow Better Today.

In some ways, you could describe the theme as choices between prioritizing only the needs and desires of the present — or not. What is our delay of gratification quotient?

Factoring in “Temporal Discounting”

Ever say “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” If so, you are describing temporal discounting, aka time discounting or delay discounting. They are fancy ways to describe the phenomenon in which we perceive a (desired) result in the future as less valuable to us than if we get a smaller one now.

We may WANT to save for Retirement. Still, we might decide that a bigger bundle in the end isn’t worth giving up our latte-a-day at the coffee shop. Turns out that people often prefer immediate gains, despite being smaller than the delayed ones (even if only delayed a day, a week or a month).

For these want-it-now people, or in particular circumstances, the presumed value of a reward starts to decrease as the time frame to achieve it increases. In psychology circles, you may hear it referred to as the individual’s “temporal discount rate.” Basically, at what rate do we weigh future outcomes as compared to possible immediate gratifications and desires?

Whatever our own rate, it can have a lot to say about self-control and less healthy behaviors (especially versus those people – if we aren’t one – who have a tendency toward a delay of gratification that demands more self-control). This can be the case even when we want the final outcome and have every ‘intention’ to do what we think would be beneficial. Whether it’s food, exercise, drugs or money, the key factor is how we perceive the wait.

Back to Longevity and Money

If we believe that we might live longer, would we save more? Or are we more tempted to simply ‘live for today?’ After all, many of us read, and delighted in, Ram Dass’ Be Here Now. So, how do we make judgements between these choices?

The UCLA author, Hershfield describes research done when subjects were shown age-progression pictures of themselves. A younger person could view themselves as old. Testing included figuring out how humans react? Do we simply see these pictures as ‘others,’ or do we internalize the older person as ourselves? How do we relate to them?

Scans can show how the brain reacts when we identify “self or not self.” It’s how we know ‘that’s me’ or ‘that’s not me.’ Brain scans taken after the experience with the age-progressed-self showed which younger people more closely related to their older version self.

The radio show (also a podcast) had so much to offer, I’ve link to it below, as well as a Ted Talk by the author. Still, I want to circle around to my opening. Subjects who perceive these ‘new people’ truly as their future self and thus have a sense of connection (personal overlap) are more apt to plan ahead for times to come. According to the author, this is an important thing since even chipmunks plan for the future better than 8 out of 10 Americans.

Belief and Savings

Vividly relating to our future self, evidently encourages us to save more money for later years, like chipmunks store their nuts. Younger people in the study had more motivation to understand financial management when they emotionally related to their aged self.

Other research has demonstrated the same outcomes for exercise and health. And it’s true whether the delayed timeframe is in days, months or years. Despite the end-goal, the belief that we have a responsibility to our future self (savings, health, happiness, fitness) is inspired by our connection with the future self.


No matter our age, we will get older (if we’re lucky). There is still time to “make tomorrow better today.” I submit that with conscious awareness and attention, we can enjoy living in today, while still keeping our eye on tomorrow. THAT’s aging with pizzazz.


You 2.0: Your Future Is Now

Video – You can also see the author, Hershfield here at a previous Ted Talk on YouTube:

Title Picture credit: This Photo is licensed under CC BY-ND See Kenernest63a (

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The post Longevity and Savings Connection appeared first on Aging with Pizzazz.

Originally Published on

I hit the Second 50 mark a while back, but have my sights on a different goal –much longer, quality living.

While I may have a ‘dr’ in front of my name, the credentials for this blog are the same as yours – I am on a journey to Age with Pizzazz, whether that is body, mind, spirit or just fun and learning.  It is important to me to share related information with others as well.

I currently live in Southern Oregon with my husband, Michael.  I have had the good fortune (well, usually good fortune) to have called several states my home: Vermont, New York (family home with various locations along the way), Massachusetts (a short stint), Georgia, West Virginia, Connecticut, Arizona and most recently (2014) Oregon.

I grew up in upstate New York to a financially-modest family and did most of my schooling there.  My undergraduate work was in education (music and special education).  I did post graduate work in music therapy (and became an RMT – Registered Music Therapist).  My master’s degree from The New School in New York was in Hospital and Health Care Administration – and also convinced me that along with wonderful advancements, much is wrong with our traditional American medical and health care system (at least at that point).  There was a year more of pre-med courses in the southeast and then a doctorate degree in chiropractic (an industry that also has its many up and down sides).

I often joke that I have had as many professions or jobs as I do fingers.  To live up to that claim, I will name some: waitress, low-level banker, music and special Ed teacher, music therapist, mental health professional, gig performer, real estate agent (for which I had a shot at being the worst ever), probation officer, chiropractor, author and consultant.

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