Money-saving tips and tricks are a dime a dozen these days. At this point, most all of us know that to save money we should do things like bring our lunch to work, make a budget and clip coupons. And many of us probably already do these things — and still can’t seem to save enough.
That’s why I decided to dig into the research journals to uncover proven, little-known ways that consumers can save money. Here are three.
1. Consolidate your bank accounts
For years, the conventional wisdom was that spreading money across various bank accounts encourages consumers to save. But new research by Promothesh Chatterjee, an assistant professor in the School of Business at The University of Kansas, turns that on its head. “We find that individuals are more likely to save if they have only one primary account, rather than many accounts,” Chatterjee said in a statement. “Basically, people look for an excuse to spend, and vague information facilitates this — and having multiple accounts provides just enough vagueness to do the trick.”
2. Avoid the color red in certain shopping situations
The color red can trigger consumers to spend more money than they otherwise would have, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2012. The study looked at eBay auctions and compared how consumers responded to products listed with a red background vs. a blue background. They found that the color red induces aggression and thus increases bids in an auction. “Our results suggest that incidental exposure to color on webpage backgrounds or on walls in brick-and-mortar stores can affect willingness-to-pay,” the authors write. “In situations where consumers compete with each other to buy a scarce or a limited edition product, firms may increase consumers’ willingness-to-pay by exposure to red versus blue backgrounds.”
3. Picture yourself old
Want to save a ton of money for retirement? The secret may be to picture yourself as an old person (gray hair, wrinkles and all), according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2011. The researchers had one group of participants view a photo of themselves as they looked that day and another group view a photo that had been digitally rendered to make them look 70. Then the participants were told to imagine that they had just unexpectedly received $1,000 and to allocate it among four options: 1) buy something nice for someone special, 2) invest in a retirement fund, 3) plan a fun and extravagant occasion, and 4) put it into a checking account. Those who had seen a photo of themselves at age 70 were more than twice as likely as the other group to put the money into the retirement account. You can use this tool from Merrill Lynch to picture yourself old. We suggest you do it when that tax refund check comes.
* All images are courtesy of Getty Images.