Does being an English speaker doom you to a life of scarce savings? Well, that may seem simplistic and somewhat ridiculous, but according to Keith Chen, a behavioral economist at Yale University, it’s not out of the question. Chen’s research examines the link between savings behavior and language based on what he calls the «future-time reference.» English, along with many other tongues, such as Italian, French, Russian and Hebrew, are strong FTR languages, meaning it has a different tense for speaking about the future. For example, we say, «It will rain tomorrow.» By contrast, weak FTR languages, such as German, Japanese and Icelandic, don’t have a distinct future tense. To express the same sentiment in German, the words translate to «it rains tomorrow.» Chen looked both at the data for people who live in different countries and those who live in the same country but speak different languages, some strong FTR and some weak FTR. Both statistical regressions showed that people who spoke weak FTR languages have more future-oriented behaviors – they saved more money annually and they had a larger pool of savings by the time they retired. Interestingly, they also were less likely to smoke or be obese and more likely to engage in physical activity. What could account for this difference? Chen posits that speaking a language that separates the future from the present with different tense makes the future seem more distant and, consequently, make saving harder. People who speak languages that use the same tense for the present and future could be more willing to save because the future appears closer. But lest you think you better start learning German in order to be a better saver, it’s really not the language that’s so important here – it’s how you think about time. If you think about the future as not so far away from the present, you might be apt to save more. Even if retirement is 40 years down the road for you, imagine that it’s coming up much sooner and start socking away those dollars now. What do you think about Chen’s findings? Do the words we speak set us up to be successful savers? Just as the grass always seems greener on the other side of the proverbial fence, is the economic outlook for other generations coming up greener, too? According to the 2012 Generational Research report by Financial Finesse, regardless if you’re a Millennial, Gen Xer or baby boomer, the Great Recession may have altered how you saved for retirement – and that’s if you were able to save at all in recent years. The report states: «U. S. employees have generally emerged from the Great Recession with improvements in their day-to-day money management but with a continuing shortfall in their retirement readiness. However, the Great Recession has not left all age groups in the same place. Each generation faces its own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges when it comes to planning for retirement.» So the next time you envy your college-age child for the 40 years he has to save for retirement – or your 80-year-old parent who gets a full Social Security benefit payment every month – consider this: Despite admirable cash-management skills – 88 percent pay their bills on time, and 62 percent regularly pay off their credit-card balances in full – Millennials fall short on retirement planning and investing in general. Only 17 percent say they are on track to replace 80 percent of their income in retirement, while 29 percent say they are confident their investments are allocated appropriately.