How to be a smarter saver

Not very long ago, Americans were terrible savers. In 2007, the average person put aside 60 cents of every $100, or .6% per paycheck. However, the current economic downturn has shocked us into depositing more at the bank. As of February, the personal savings rate was more than 4%. That’s a big improvement, but it’s still half of 1980s levels, when Americans routinely socked away 10% of their paychecks. Why is saving so hard? And how can we be smarter savers?

Behavioral economists—researchers who mix psychology and economics—have uncovered three reasons why people find it so difficult to save. The first is temptation: Although we often later regret it, we just can’t resist spending. The second is lack of understanding: Our brains can’t quite grasp the profitability of saving. The third is optimism: We believe that everything will work out, even if we don’t save…

That is me over at Parade magazine, by all means read it all.

Tim Harford’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.