Your Money, Your Future
Your Money, Your Future

'Super savers' make these sacrifices to help them reach their goals

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Key Points
  • Most "super savers" (75%) polled for a new report contributed at least $17,100 to their workplace retirement plan in 2019 and the remainder had a deferral rate of 15% or more.
  • The top two sacrifices noted by survey respondents are living in a modest home and driving an older car.

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Maybe you know one: the person who saves boatloads for retirement, manages to follow a budget and even has a fat emergency fund.

In other words, a "super saver."

While perhaps an enviable position, it's one that typically involves making some sacrifices, according to a report from Principal Financial Group that shows what those individuals give up. 

"They aren't giving up everything," said Joleen Workman, a vice president at Principal. "They're finding a way to make their savings sustainable."

Top sacrifices by super savers

Driving older vehicles48%
Owning modest home42%
Not traveling as much as I prefer39%
No housecleaner39%
Doing DIY projects instead of hiring help38%
High levels of work-related stress31%
Buying secondhand goods27%
Work more, takes away from social life22%
Work more, takes away family time21%
Telling friends/family no to common expenses19%

The report is based on a survey of about 1,700 individuals ages 20 to 54 who are viewed as super savers due to high contributions to their retirement plan at Principal. Most of them (75%) contributed at least $17,100 in 2019 and the remainder had a deferral rate of 15% or more.

Generally speaking, these super savers forgo some of life's luxuries, which may be an example to others who want to save more for their golden years. While some households have little to no wiggle room in their budget to save — especially if they've experienced income loss during the pandemic — others may just need some inspiration to create a budget and notch up their savings.

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Additionally, everyone's goals are different and some of the sacrifices claimed by super savers may be unacceptable to others. Regardless of your goals, they typically require some give-and-take in your budget if you want to reach them, Workman said. 

"Each individual is different, and everyone has different hobbies or other things that bring them joy," she said. "So if someone's goal is to drive a nicer car, then maybe they spend less on entertainment."

At the same time, it's not as if these super savers go without everything — they still splurge on things like movie streaming and dining out, among other activities. However, those activities are generally done within the context of a budget that already has allocated a chunk to retirement savings.

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Another upshot of prioritizing savings is confidence: Nearly all of the super savers in the survey (98%) feel financially secure due to their savings habits. 

"The message boils down to this is a marathon, not a sprint," Workman said. "And this super saver population knows that."