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Investing 101: A New Way to Envision Your Retirement


By Zelkadis Elvi

A recent Stanford University study found that many Americans fail to save enough for retirement. That’s because they don’t “identify with their future selves,” the report says. In order to get more people to think ahead about retirement, Merrill Edge came up with a web-based tool called Face Retirement. This tool ages a digital picture of yourself – giving you an idea of what you’ll look like during your retirement years.

“We wanted to come up with a unique and a creative way, and a fun way, for people to engage in a difficult topic,” said Alok Prasad, head of Merrill Edge, in the attached video. “Our research found that over 75% of Americans are worried about retirement.”

The Stanford study found that people contributed more money to their retirement savings plans after seeing their future face. Tests showed “a 30% increase,” said Prasad.

The process is simple. Using a webcam, users can take a photo of themselves and watch as the site digitally ages their face. “Right after someone tries it, they can see themselves at these different age levels,” said Paul Vienick, managing director at Merrill Edge.

But the tool goes beyond just snapping a picture and aging your face. It estimates your future cost of living.

“So when someone is going to be 77 or 87 [years old], whatever year that may be, we’ll tell them what something will cost at that point in time," said Vienick. "Whether it be a gallon of milk, a gallon of gas, the cost of a wedding, the cost of an airline ticket. It’s quite an interesting way to correlate it back to today’s time and what things cost.”

Everyday expenses in the future are, of course, expected to rise. By 2024, the price tag for a gallon of milk might top $5 and a a loaf of bread is expected to top $6 in 2044. Keeping the lights on in 2074 could be challenging too. The average electric bill may set you back almost $1,000 each month.

The Face Retirement website debuted in December 2012, and so far, almost 350,000 people have visited it. “It has been successful,” said Prasad. “Over 20% of people who use the tool and take the picture actually do more with it. They go to other tools and calculators.”

The process is simple and social -users can share their retirement images on Facebook.

Click here to check out your retirement face!

[Note: Merrill Edge is the sponsor of this website]