Doesn’t this title make you think of a grocery store ad? Perhaps someone furiously clipping coupons. I promise that is not what this post is about as I have a mild fear of coupons (unless they are from REI).
For the past few weeks I have noticed the term ‘super saver’ popping up in the mainstream financial media world. In the FIRE community (Financial Independence Retire Early) the term super saver is well known. However, it seems to be foreign to many in the ‘regular’ news world. After some reading I found out that a large investment bank conducted a recent survey which contained the term ‘super saver.’ This explains the recent popularity of the term and I have a feeling all the articles I have seen are using this survey as a reference.
In the survey a ‘super saver’ was defined as someone who saves more that 20% of their income. To make the math easy – someone making $100,000 would save $20,000 annually. Not bad. In fact if everyone saved 20% or more of their income all the articles talking about the impending financial doom for most people nearing retirement would all but disappear. Unfortunately, very few people save this much money. It gets even more difficult if you make less money. At an income of $50,000 you would need to save $10,000 annually leaving you to live off of the remaining $40,000.
At this point I usually lose my audience. “I can’t live on only $40,000 a year!” you say. My reply is always, “Why not? I do.” *
In fact when including our mortgage payment in our budget we have always spent about $40,000 a year. As our income rose so did our savings. The hard part is leaving your budget set in stone as your income is rising. Lifestyle creep is very real, which is why most people have low savings rates. The more you make the more you spend. I know if I keep extra money in my regular checking account it will disappear. I don’t always know where it goes, but it does.
Now back to the super savers. My wife and I did not start out as super savers. In fact we were zero savers. Luckily as our income rose we started saving more. Eventually we got to the point where we were saving more than 20% of our income. Then we kept going. In the FIRE world a ‘super saver’ is typically defined as someone saving 50% of their income! Sometimes even more. We made this our number one goal once we finished paying off our mortgage.
Online you can find a subculture of people choosing to buy their freedom (by saving) instead of buying more stuff. I encourage you to do the same. It’s amazing how much peace of mind you obtain as your rainy day fund turns into a rainy couple of years fund.
Enjoy the ride,
* Honestly to avoid always sounding like a jerk I sometimes just mumble “yeah no kidding.”