Recently, my husband and I sat down to map out our savings plan for three months of travel at the end of next year.
We figured out how to live off of one of our salaries right now, and put the rest into savings—both for retirement and toward a special account we opened and labeled “Chris and Cheryl Go Traveling.”
I have to tell you, it’s never been easier for me to sock away money than it is right now, when I’m imagining myself climbing to the top of Machu Picchu next year or staring at the photo of the Galapagos Islands that I printed and hung near my desk.
And, it turns out, neuroscience may be on my side: According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, people whose brains show added activity when they’re imagining the future also seem to make better financial choices.
“We study people choosing between immediate and delayed monetary rewards,” says Joe Kable, a specialist in the field of neuroeconomics at the University of Pennsylvania. “Previously, people have emphasized the importance of tamping down the desire for immediate gratification. Our work highlights the flip side of this, which is the importance of enhancing one’s desire for delayed rewards—and we think imagination can play an important part in this process.”
Kable isn’t the only one studying the correlation between visualization and money. We spoke to some of the leading researchers in the field to scope out ways you visualize your way to a prettier financial picture.