We need to know what version of Premiere Elements that you are using and on what computer operating system it is running.
Generalizing for now....the Premiere Elements project file is named "Name Of Your Project.prel". Its save location is determined by
what is set in the new project dialog. This is your working file which contains imported source media copies of the originals that are saved to the
computer hard drive. The copies in Premiere Elements Project Media aka Project Assets must trace back to the originals which are saved on the hard drive at the time of import.
The AutoSave feature includes snapshots of the project at various stages as you progress through the project. The settings (frequency and number of snapshots before the oldest one is deleted) for this feature are found in Edit Menu/Preferences/AutoSave. These AutoSave may be able to be used if the working project. prel is not longer available for some reason.
There is the opportunity for not using this feature - doing periodic Save A Copy (each with a different name) as you progress through your project. See File Menu/Save A Copy. These copies can be put into a folder on the computer hard drive for access at another time.
I would not go putting anything (your own Save A Copy files) in the AutoSave Folder (Adobe Premiere Elements AutoSave) which contains the AutoSave files that the program puts there automatically when the AutoSave feature is activated.
Please review and consider. If you need clarification, please do not hesitate to ask.
I am running Windows 8. What was confusing me was that I was looking at the Date field in Windows Explorer which showed the date the project was created; I should have looked at the Date Modified. So it was not being changed every time I saved my project. That caused me confusion, which I hope you can understand.
Thanks for the follow up.
The file properties Created, Modified, and Accessed are often sources of confusion.
How have you been opening your saved closed project
a. Opening program, selecting File Menu/Open Project, selecting your project.prel (with a sequential name),checking Properties
for Created, Modified, and Accessed.
One example, using the File Menu/Open Project route
Before I open a Premiere Elements saved closed project, its Properties show
Created June 27, 2014
Modified June 27, 2014
Accessed June 27, 2014
(This particular program was created, video edited, and saved all on June 27, 2014.)
When I open this same project today, video edit it, and save close it, and look at its Properties,
Created June 27, 2014
Modified June 30, 2014
Accessed June 30, 2014
If I look at Properties for these two project.prels in Libraries/Documents/Premiere Elements/12.0, I see the
same for Properties there as I did above.
Please review and consider.