Looks Like a Stronger Savings Account Is the Silver—Er, Green—Lining to Being a Bit Insecure

Photo: Getty Images/Aleksander Nakic
Remember how in The Hobbit, Smaug the dragon lived atop his riches, which act as a protective armor of sorts? I now wonder if that might've been a low self-esteem thing, because new research points to insecurity being a low-key money-saving strategy. Sure, in Smaug's case it didn't work out well (spoiler!), but the revelation can be at least slightly comforting for those of us who are lacking in the self-confidence area.

Recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the study of 2,410 United States and Israeli citizens and survey of 1,200 people in the Netherlands conveyed ties between saving money and a threats to self-image. Across the board, results showed that those who feel great threats to self-image had a higher tendency to save money.

BTW, "threats to self-image" translates here to "things that challenge your self-esteem or your otherwise-positive self-perception." Basically if you're insecure about something, like how you interpret the quality of your own social life, for instance, being financially secure can help to ease your anxieties.

"Friends may substitute for money as a psychological resource and buffer individuals from anxiety about the future." —lead author Yael Steinhart, PhD

One experiment had participants describe a positive or negative event, then count the people they would call and interact with in a given week and quantify whether they felt this to be few or many friends. Then they imagined receiving $500 and how much they would put in a savings account. The result? Those who saved less imaginary funds had more positive social connections. "Friends may substitute for money as a psychological resource and buffer individuals from anxiety about the future," says lead study lead author Yael Steinhart, PhD, in a press release.

It's worth noting here that, like a scary date-night movie that really puts you in the mood, there's such a thing as a healthy fear. And while fear of destitution fueled by iffy self-esteem is a bummer, it can at least land you some treasure on which to sleep and with which to armor yourself. Until, you know, some bard shoots an arrow in your exposed breastplate—or whatever ended up happening to Smaug. #amirite, Tolkien?

Here's how to unpack your financial baggage for good. And, if you've been putting it off, this is how to have the dreaded money talk with your S.O.

Loading More Posts...