If your parents sent you regular SMS messages about your long-term savings goals, you’d probably save more money, even with the therapy bills. That’s because economists believe regular, positive reinforcement via mobile phone can actually boost your will to save money.
Four economists teamed up with local banks in the Philippines, Peru and Bolivia, sending regular text messages to customers who had just opened up a savings account. Some were sent with negative warnings about not having savings, which did little good for customers’ balances. Those that mentioned specific goals customers gave when setting up the accounts, however, increased savings by an average of 16 per cent.
The study challenges the idea that people don’t save because they lack self-control. Instead, people may not be paying enough attention, says Dartmouth College economics professor Jonathan Zinman, one of the study’s four authors.
How can you keep yourself similarly reminded of your savings goals? You could set up a Google, Yahoo or other web-based calendar and stuff it with specific reminders about what you’re saving for, then have those “events” sent to your phone. Or use an online to-do service with SMS reminders. There are a lot of ways to get it done — what matters most is knowing what you care about enough to make you skip the coffee-run and pocket the cash instead.