Exploring the Relationships Between Impatience, Savings Automation, and Financial Welfare
Financial Planning Review, Forthcoming
36 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2019
Date Written: December 3, 2018
The Behavioral Life-Cycle hypothesis (Thaler & Shefrin, 1981) models consumers as having both impatient “doer” preferences, representing their desire to spend now, and patient “planner” preferences, representing long-run welfare considerations. The Behavioral Life-Cycle hypothesis suggests that those with doer preferences may benefit from strategies that constrain their present behavior and promote saving for the future, like automating deposits into savings accounts. We analyze over 4,000 responses from the nationally representative National Financial Well-Being Survey to (1) describe consumer characteristics associated with the decision to automate savings deposits, and (2) explore whether automation is related to improved financial welfare, especially for impatient consumers. We find that savings automation is positively associated with financial socialization (whether the respondent’s family discussed financial matters growing up) and financial skill (the ability to act on financial knowledge). We also find that impatient consumers — relative to those with stronger planner preferences — have fewer liquid savings, lower financial well-being, less confidence in their ability to raise $2,000, and more difficulty paying bills. However, as predicted, these differences between consumers with doer and planner preferences largely disappear for those who automate savings deposits. We discuss implications of this research for financial planners in helping clients improve financial welfare.
Keywords: Savings Automation, Financial Well-Being, Household Finance, Behavioral Life-Cycle Hypothesis
JEL Classification: D12, D14, D69, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation