Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
There are plenty of tips and tricks out there to help you improve your savings habits, from creating a budget to setting up automatic transfers from your checking account after every paycheck.
But, researchers from the Stanford Graduate School of Business have a new one for you: Embrace the power trip.
Their new study found that people who feel powerful (defined by having control over valuable resources) are more likely to save money as a means of maintaining that power. And, if you’re not feeling very powerful at the moment? Don’t fret. Fortunately, feelings of power are subjective and malleable — so, there’s still room to change your mind, and therefore your savings habits.
As part of their study, the Stanford researchers engaged in a total of five experiments to illustrate the effect of power on savings habits. For the first, 140 university students were divided into three groups that either wrote about a time they felt a sense of power or lack thereof, or didn’t write at all. All groups were then instructed to envision themselves receiving 100 euros, and asked how much they would deposit in a savings account. The students who had written about feeling powerful saved a mean of 71.20 euros, while the other groups saved only 48.73 euros and 51.69 euros, respectively.
The second experiment assessed people who received actual money. Offered $10 to report to a research lab, 76 Stanford students were instructed to either sit in a tall or low chair, and were then interviewed about an unrelated topic. After the interview, students who sat on the tall chair reported that they would save $6.94 of their $10, whereas those who sat in the shorter chair would save an average of $4.49.
The third experiment assigned 200 participants to imagine that they were either a member or the leader of a group project. The leaders saved between 34% and 42% vs the group members, who reported only saving between an average of 13% and 18%.
The other experiments, again, found that those who were made to feel powerful (by imagining themselves as bosses instead of employees) vowed to save more than those who felt powerless.
One exception? The researchers found that if a factor other than money was linked to power, such as securing life-long employment, people’s savings habits were not influenced at all.
While you’re getting the hang of your new power attitude, read up on some other ways to boost your savings habits, like five strategies that make you happy about saving or these nine habits that can help you build wealth.