Using the 2007–2009 Survey of Consumer Finances panel dataset, we investigate whether and how changes in perceived income and saving motives are related to demand for household savings in the United States after the Great Recession. Households that perceive their current income as lower, relative to normal years are less likely to save than those who view that their income is the same as the reference point. This result holds only for those who experienced a significant negative income shock during the Great Recession. Among five major saving motives, saving for an emergency is an important factor in explaining the likelihood of saving. This study suggests that financial planners and educators should pay close attention to the role of households’ income perception and saving motives and should account for the resulting potential psychological biases in households’ saving decisions.

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