A new survey offers some insights into the habits of “super savers,” who are defined by their ability to sock away 90% of the contribution maximum for their super fund (or alternatively, at least 15% of their pay). Of course, making a lot of money helps, too (duh), but half of the respondents included made less than $US100,000 — and of those, 15% made $US35,000 or less. And their common money habits can be a blueprint for the rest of us to increase our own savings.
“Super savers” make payments on time
The most commonly shared habits are related to credit behaviour, including on-time payments, avoiding overdrafts with their checking accounts and using credit cards only when necessary. All of this stuff keeps your credit score high, which, as we’ve discussed before, has a tremendous impact on how much money you can save in your lifetime. According to the survey, the most common habits or behaviour relating to super savers are as follows:
- Pay bills on time: 85%
- Pay credit cards in full: 73%
- Don’t overdraw account: 70%
- Double-digit % of pay goes to retirement: 70%
- Net worth grows each year: 62%
- Don’t feel guilty for an occasional splurge: 61%
- Don’t lose sleep over my finances: 56%
- Feel confident in my financial future: 54%
- Feel in control of my finances: 53%
- Happy with my financial situation: 50%
- Don’t use credit cards out of necessity: 49%
- Naturally inclined to save: 47%
- Have a financial plan: 44%
- Spend time monthly learning about finances: 31%
- Spend time monthly learning about investments: 29%
- People ask my opinion about finances: 29%
- Have a debt payoff strategy: 27%
- Have a budget I follow each month: 21%
Other lessons learned from the survey
The survey from Principal Financial Group — which examined individuals ages 19 to 56 who put at least 90% of the contribution maximum of $US19,500 (or alternatively, put away at least 15% of their pay) — uncovered some other insights, too.
The greatest influence on saving habits tends to start at home, as super savers cite parents (32%), a family member (9%), a spouse (6%) or watching someone struggle financially (10%) for the reasons they put aside more savings than the average person. This far outpaces other factors like the influence of financial gurus (4%) or online articles like the one you’re reading right now (1%, bummer).
And while 61% of super savers say they use a budget, only 21% follow it every month. This suggests a casual DIY financial strategy, which is further evidenced by the fact that only 34% of respondents use the services of a financial advisor. While super savers still splurge occasionally, over a third of them are consistently frugal on bigger items like travel, housing (a more modest home), cars (they drive older models longer).
Good financial habits start with an emergency fund
Another running theme with all these super savers is stability: Few lost their jobs (5%) while the majority of them either increased their savings or investments during the pandemic. This speaks to good fortune as a factor in financial stability across all age groups, which again, underscores the need to be prepared for the unexpected.
For that reason, making sure you have a topped-up emergency fund is a good place to start if you’re looking to improve your finances. Here are the steps to take to build an emergency fund if you haven’t already.