These 'super savers' are retiring earlier than most. Here's what they're doing differently

  • A number of individuals ages 45 and up fall into a new category — super savers — because they are putting away at least 20 percent of their income.
  • These people are making saving and investing a priority even over their housing and daily costs, all in the name of being able to have the retirement of their dreams.
  • While super savers are taking the obvious steps to get there — such as avoiding debt and keeping to a budget — there are several less common money hacks that you may want to make your own.
Caucasian woman counting money in wallet
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You've probably heard of the FIRE — financial independence, retire early — movement, the trend that's taken hold among individuals who are mostly in their 20s and 30s.

But you probably haven't heard of the "super savers," Americans age 45 and older who are putting away at least 20 percent of their income — or $1 out of every $5.

A new online survey from TD Ameritrade of 1,503 individuals in September and October found that 20 percent count as savings over achievers.

"Most are choosing this path because they're looking at the freedom and flexibility it offers," said Dara Luber, senior manager of retirement at TD Ameritrade. "They are looking for financial security and peace of mind, and they're thinking that their retirement will be like a second childhood."

The survey found that 57 percent of super savers plan to retire earlier than their parents did, versus 46 percent of non-savers.

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In order to achieve those goals, they are avoiding high-interest debt and sticking to a budget.

And there are a few things they are doing differently.

Investing more

Super savers are making investments a priority even over their housing and daily costs.

These over achievers are putting away 29 percent of their income compared to others, who are investing just 6 percent of their money, on average.

"They're not downsizing their lifestyle. They're not looking to move to cheaper states, necessarily," Luber said. "They're just spending smarter and saving smarter."

Starting early

More than half of super savers — 54 percent — started investing by age 30. Almost a third of them — 30 percent — started by age 25.

In comparison, 39 percent of non-super savers started by age 30, and just 20 percent of them by 25.

"Saving becomes ingrained in everything they do, and it's a priority for them," Luber said.

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Looking for low fees

While super savers are active investors, they also prioritize low- and no-fee investments.

These individuals are more likely to own low-cost exchange traded funds, at 47 percent, versus just 31 percent of non-savers.

Super savers are also more likely to invest in low- or no-fee brokerage accounts.

Diversifying retirement savings

When it comes to retirement accounts — 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts, annuities and health savings accounts — super savers are more likely to own them all.

The one account that most distinguishes them from other individuals is post-tax Roth IRAs. About 53 percent of savings overachievers have Roth IRA accounts, versus 29 percent of other savers.

"They're looking at their future and saying, 'If I pay taxes today, I could potentially have more tomorrow,'" Luber said.

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