New research from Money Anxiety (www.moneyanxiety.com) reveals that consumers instinctively increase their savings during tough economic times such as during the last recession. The impulse to increase savings is rooted in the reptilian part of the brain, which functions primarily as a self preservation mechanism. Our ancestors hoarded food and wood when they faced severe danger from the elements, and today’s consumers follow the same survival instinct when they hoard their money during times of economic and financial danger. This behavioral economics phenomenon is termed “Mattress Money”.
Since people share the same three brain functionality, instinctive, emotional and intellectual, people react in the same manner to economic conditions. When economic conditions are tough, consumers act in a similar instinctive manner by increasing their savings as a measure of self preservation. Evidence of the instinct to save during high money anxiety was during the two recessionary years of December 2007 to December 2009, when consumers increased their pace of bank savings by $100 billion compared to the two years prior to the Great Recession according to FDIC data.
The link between consumers’ financial anxiety and their savings habits is empirically demonstrated in Money Anxiety - a new behavioral economics book that shows strong association between consumers’ level of financial anxiety and personal savings. When money anxiety increases, consumers tend to save more and spend less. Conversely, when money anxiety decreases, consumers save less and spend more.