6 ways to plan for your future financial security

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.

No matter how old you are, how to plan for your future financial security is probably something you’ve been thinking about. Maybe you even did a little something about it. You may have saved some money. Thought of the best place for golf (or any other hobby you’ll have). I figured out when to start social security. Spoke with a financial advisor. Or write a financial plan.

While these are all great planning activities, you might be missing something important.

The best way to plan for your future financial security? Imagine it!

Thinking woman holding an orange piggy bank
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Perhaps the best way to plan for your future is to imagine it – really think about the details of who you will be, where and why. Being able to visualize now who you will be in the future and what your needs and desires will be at that time is perhaps the most important aspect of planning.

In psychological circles, the idea of ​​being able to imagine yourself in the future is called “self-continuity”. It’s a concept that’s been around since at least the ancient Greeks, and scientists have found that you’re better off if you can somehow connect to that future self.

Turns out, visualizing your future does a few important things when it comes to planning for retirement. By connecting with your future self:

  • You can create a better retirement plan, a plan that fits what you want to do.
  • It helps you make sure you create a plan and do what you need to do now – save money, stay healthy, and keep your friends – so that you have a better future.

Research suggests that our brain naturally treats our future self as an outsider. And, let’s face it, you’re unlikely to be saving for retirement expenses or taking care of a stranger’s body. It turns out that by visualizing yourself in the future and “getting to know” that person, you’re more likely to take action now to care for that future version of yourself.

Whether you’re 40 and hoping to retire in 30 or you’re 67 and hoping to have enough resources to fund the rest of your life, here are six ways to visualize your future so you can create and carry out a plan. really efficient. :

1) Imagine yourself older and be detailed

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To increase the likelihood that you are planning for your future, researchers suggest that you imagine yourself in the body of one of your own grandparents or great-grandparents. Think about what this older version of yourself wants to do and where this person lives. Consider that person who pays the bills in retirement. By visualizing yourself in retirement — and writing down those thoughts to make them more real — you may be much more likely to adequately prepare yourself to be that senior.

The more details you can visualize about your future self, the better planning and preparation you will do for that person.

Visualize the answers to the following questions for different ages in your future:

  • How do you pass the time. Do you work somehow? What are your hobbies? How active are you?
  • What is your daily routine?
  • Who do you see regularly? What are your relations with them?
  • What could have gone wrong in your life? (Can you do something now to prevent this from happening?)
  • Are you in good health ? What are you doing to maintain health?
  • How do you dress?
  • Where do you live? Which town? What kind of house?
  • Consider how your current and past aspirations connect to your future self.

Studies suggest that retirement savings and other positive behaviors increase when the saver can understand that they are saving for a real person (themselves) with real needs in the future.

2) Think when, not if

Senior in rural areas
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If you want to know how to plan for your future, you might want to make sure you use the word “when” and not “if” when talking about your goals and plans. For example, instead of saying “if I save enough to retire at age 62”, change your thinking to say “when I will save enough to retire at age 62”.

Saying “when” and not “if” is a small trick that will help you create a plan that will allow you to achieve your goals.

3) Write a letter to your future self

woman writing a letter
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It might be a bit mind-blowing, but people who have done it say it’s incredibly powerful to write a letter to your future self. You can talk about your life right now and how you hope it will grow and change by the time you reach the age of the person you are writing about. So if you’re 63 now, you might want to write to your 75-year-old self. By thinking about who this future person is and thinking about what you want to say to them, you can really connect with your future in a deep way.

There’s even a non-profit service that lets you email your future self – FutureMe.org. You write the email now, and they will deliver it to you on the future date you request.

4) Consider how big and small choices now determine options for your future

woman watching tv
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Every choice you make right now has ramifications for your future. You’ve probably heard the analogy of throwing a small pebble into a pond and seeing how the small disturbance in the water can create massive concentric waves that reach every shore.

Your big and small choices right now are like that for your future self.

  • What you eat, how you exercise, and other health choices will definitely impact who you will be 20 years from now.
  • The way you spend time now — working long hours, watching TV, developing hobbies — lays the foundation for your future.
  • The people you spend time with and the effort you put into those relationships with family and friends can determine whether or not they will be a meaningful part of your future life.
  • How much you spend and how much you save now will limit or expand the options you have in the future.

5) Ask yourself how something affects your future self

thinking woman
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For anything you do, it can be helpful to ask yourself if it has a long-term benefit. If it doesn’t positively affect your current and future self, is it really worth doing?

This does not mean that you give up on pleasure. You simply take a longer view and choose things that make you happy both now and in the future. If you want to know how to plan for your future, you need to start thinking about how all the big and small choices you make now will impact your life when you retire.

6) Create a vision board

vision board
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Popularized by the book “The Secret,” vision boards have become a trending way to help you imagine your future. A vision board is a collage of pictures and words of things that inspire and motivate you. Ideally, the things you put on the board make you feel something. You can cut pictures from magazines and have a vision board on your fridge or use pinterest to create a digital vision board.

Some may think this idea is a bit too new-age, but the science really backs up the idea that visualization works.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click on links in our stories.

Sarah J. Greer