Survey Reveals Key Actions of ‘Super Savers’

Starting early and managing spending and debt are key to be able to save more.

A recent survey conducted for TD Ameritrade uncovered a group of “super savers”—Americans whose savings rate tops 20%—and revealed just how dramatically their saving and spending behaviors differ from the norm.

“The biggest difference between super savers and others is simply the amount they save—on average, 29% of their income, compared to non-super savers, who save 6%,” says Dara Luber, senior manager of retirement at TD Ameritrade. “Three in four super savers are financially independent, or on the path to be, compared to less than half of non-super savers, with more super savers heading toward an early retirement.”

Starting young is a key component of super savers’ investment strategies. More than half (54%) began investing by age 30, compared to 39% of other respondents, with three in 10 starting by age 25, compared to two in 10 of their non-super saver counterparts. Fifty-seven percent of super savers say they either have retired or plan to retire earlier than their parents did, compared to 46% of non-super savers.

According to the survey, super savers are spending less than non-super savers in nearly every category, with the biggest differences being in housing (14% versus 23% of income) and household expenses (16% versus 21% of income).

Eighty-eight percent of super savers say it’s worth it to sacrifice now to achieve financial independence sooner, and 55% say they’d rather increase their savings rate by increasing their income (just 36% of non-super savers say the same).

Overall, super savers are strikingly ahead of non-super savers on four key metrics of financial decision making:

  • 65% avoid high-interest debt, compared to 56% of others;
  • 60% stick to a budget, compared to 49% of others;
  • 58% invest in the stock market, compared to 34% of others; and
  • 55% max out their retirement savings, compared to 30% of others.

“The good news is that the tools and practices these super savers are employing to pursue their financial goals are available to all Americans,” says Luber.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade from September 28 through October 6, 2018, among 1,503 U.S. adults ages 45 and older with more than $250,000 in investable assets. Among this group, 324 were identified as “super savers.” The survey report is here.