By Sandy K. Johnson

What is the single biggest reason that keeps people from saving for their long-term financial security?

  • Procrastination
  • Optimism bias (“Why worry?”)
  • Longevity disconnect
  • Impulse control (“We want things NOW”)
  • Overreaction

If you guessed C, then you’re correct. More than half of people surveyed by Prudential Financial have an inability to relate to their older selves, and that prevents them from financially protecting that “stranger.”

“We try to make the stranger real to them by using visual technology” that reveals who we all eventually become – a retiree who needs to live on savings for decades, said Christine Marcks, president of Prudential Retirement.

Journalists at the National Press Foundation’s aging and retirement training used Prudential’s aging technology on an iPad to (gasp!) see their older selves.

Marcks said automatic enrollment into retirement plans – also called default enrollment – has helped enormously to encourage employee savings. The average default contribution is 3 percent. Ideally, she said, that would be 12 percent to 15 percent (combined employee and employer contributions).

Half of workers don’t have access to retirement plans at all, and small businesses, women and minorities are disproportionately among those left behind.  Marcks said there is bipartisan support in Congress for changes to the rules that govern so-called “multiple employer plans”; doing so would give more flexibility for smaller employees to band together. Meanwhile,  30-some states are trying to create state-sponsored retirement plans.

That behavioral quiz? Here are the results: longevity disconnect, 56 percent; optimism bias, 24 percent; procrastination, 13 percent; overreaction, 7 percent; impulse control, less than 1 percent. The results are from a Prudential sample of 48,000 employees.