For young adults the world is waiting to be conquered and living it up is the norm. But that focus on living in the moment can be damaging especially where finances and savings are concerned.

This is exactly why the researchers at Stanford University have created their virtual reality laboratory- to help provide “invincible” twenty and thirty somethings like ourselves a mirror into our now distant future. The lab has created future avatars that take an image of an individual and uses their features to recreate how they will look 25, 30, 35 years from now. The differences can be stunning.

Beyond the mere shock of seeing what the “future you” could look like, Jeremy Bailenson, the virtual-reality researcher in charge of Stanford’s lab says it can be a powerful tool to get young adults to commit to saving.

“You already know that your physical appearance affects your attitudes, your emotions and your behavior even if you’re not consciously thinking about it. The same thing happens in virtual reality, when you become this person with a different body or face. Those features of your avatar affect your mind.”

A recent study from Yale University underscored the need for young peope to save. In the study, 35 percent of young adults with 401(k)’s said they were not saving like they should. But while they promised to try to do better and raise their savings contribution, six months later only 1/8 actually did.

So far the results of Stanford’s experiment seem promising. Individuals who saw their older selves morphed into avatars were 30% more likely to commit to saving than those whose avatars weren’t aged. However, we wonder if they will hold up to the six-month test, making the real active commitment to savings that many of us often struggle to do.

Tell us what you think Clutchettes- would seeing how you’d look at 65 change the way you spend and save today?  Share your thoughts!

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  • Yes, I think seeing a much older picture of myself would just be that humility that young people need. Just a reminder that old age does happen and you can’t/won’t be young forever. That should be enough to get you saving to insure that when you are that old, you can live comfortably.