While many Americans struggle to save for retirement, there's a small group of "super savers" who put aside at least $20,000 for retirement over the course of the year. This hefty sum should provide ample financial security when invested properly, but it can obviously be a challenge to save so much.
If you're interested in joining the elite group of super savers who are well on their way to a dream retirement, it's helpful to look at some of the smart moves they're making to get there. A recent Principal study (link downloads a document) shows just what these well-invested Americans are doing -- and these techniques are accessible to almost anyone.
1. Living within their means
Super savers cited living within their means as one of the key pieces of advice they'd provide to younger people looking to hit the same savings targets.
And most of them are practicing what they preach by making adjustments such as driving older vehicles, owning modest homes, traveling less frequently than they'd prefer, and forgoing luxuries such as hiring a housekeeper.
Super savers might find it easier to live within their means because the majority have a budget. Creating a document that outlines where your money should go will help ensure you can save a generous amount.
2. Paying off credit cards
Older super savers also said they'd tell younger workers to repay credit card debt if they want to be able to invest generously for retirement.
This advice, too, makes a lot of sense. If you're paying interest to a creditor, you can't use that money to save for retirement. And since credit cards tend to have high interest rates, that could amount to quite a lot of cash.
Not only should you repay current debt ASAP so you can redirect the interest costs to retirement savings, but you should also avoid taking on this type of high-interest debt in the future if you want to become a super saver. One way to do that is to build up an emergency fund so you don't need to borrow for unexpected expenses. A whopping 97% of super savers have one, which obviously makes it much easier for them to avoid credit card debt.
3. Saving enough to receive the maximum employer match
The final piece of advice older super savers give to younger workers is to make sure to max out employer matching contributions to workplace savings plans.
Matching contributions are offered by many companies to employees who put money into a workplace 401(k). These employer-provided funds are free money that offers an effective 100% return (even before you put any money into the stock market). If you're serious about retirement savings, you can't afford to pass them up.
Avoiding credit card debt and creating a budget that ensures you're living within your means should allow you to invest at least enough in your workplace plan to earn the maximum matching funds. And hopefully, taking these steps will let you do much more than just the minimum. Then you can join the ranks of super savers who are well on their way to financially secure retirement.