Published in: Banks | Dec. 10, 2019

A Glimpse Into the Mind of a Super Saver

By:  Dana George

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Super savers know how to save today so they can enjoy tomorrow.

You're at a holiday party, and you can't help but notice an attractive person across the room. A mutual friend introduces you, and sparks fly. It gets late, but you're both too keyed up to go home. You decide to continue your conversation in an all-night cafe.

You order a cup of Earl Grey from a bleary-eyed waitress, and your date orders a cup of hot water. It's not until your new friend pulls out a crumpled tea bag and drops it into the cup of steaming water that you realize this person is ... different.

Man in suit in flying pose against wall featuring a chalk-drawn cape and dollar sign.

Image source: Getty Images

Welcome to the world of super savers.

What is a super saver?

A super saver is someone who saves significantly more than the average American, typically 20% or more of their income. In fact, according to a TD Ameritrade poll, the average super saver socks away 29% of what they earn, compared with non-super savers who only manage 6%.

A super saver is someone who prioritizes saving and investing over day-to-day expenses, including their own standard of living. These are not miserable Scrooge-type characters, many of them are driven by a clear goal to achieve financial independence.

Super savers tend to start investing early, with more than half putting their money to work in investments before the age of 30. There's no hard rule though, and it's never too late to become a super saver. 

While there are many reasons that people choose to become super savers, there does seem to be a certain mindset that sets them apart. They don't resent saving because they have clear reasons for doing it. Some of the most common goals include:

  • The ability to retire young
  • The potential to take a mid-career break to enjoy time with family
  • The opportunity to make a mid-life career change without worrying about an income reduction
  • The chance to spend more time supporting causes they care about
  • The opportunity to travel while they're young and healthy
  • The peace of mind that comes with knowing they have a robust emergency fund
  • An ultimate decrease in stress and greater sense of well-being

Why skimp on a cup of tea?

Here's what we can tell you about a day in the life of your new friend. He or she does not see those thrifty ways as painful or particularly restrictive. What they see is that you're about to receive a bill for $3 for a cup of tea, while the bag they brought from home was $0.13, and steaming water is free. Even after leaving a tip, they're going home with at least $2 more than you. If your date invests that $2 (and he or she will), and it earns 9% interest, it could be worth $4.73 in 10 years.

Now, here's where they differ. Most of us see $4.73 and think big whoop. Super savers see $4.73 and think of all the other ways they can save another $2 and another $2 and build wealth. Because each $2 saving adds up and compound interest is a powerful thing.

You want to know what else your date did today? It's open enrollment at work, so they maxed out their health savings account -- because there's nothing better than pre-tax health benefits. And while they were at it, they made sure they were contributing as much as possible to their 401(k) -- because there's nothing better than employer matching.

Your date has more than enough money to live alone, but why do that when having three roommates means more money to invest? He or she goes home, prepares tomorrow's lunch from last night's leftovers, and sits down at the computer. A quick check of his or her brokerage account offers assurance that monthly investments are being made and the portfolio is growing.

Does bringing that tea bag from home seem slightly less weird now?

The truth about your date

We live in a culture that celebrates money -- most notably, the flashing of money. It doesn't matter if the guy driving the new Escalade is so deep in debt he wishes he could create a new identity and disappear, or the woman wearing the $2,400 pair of Christian Louboutin shoes is not sure she'll make this month's mortgage payment. We have learned to equate success with an outward show of wealth. And yet, there's a very good chance that your super-saver date sleeps well at night and plans for a prosperous future with the same precision a surgeon plans for open heart surgery. Your date:

  • Avoids high-interest debt
  • Has clear financial goals
  • Knows how to stick to a budget
  • Invests in the stock market with confidence


Don't be surprised if you see your date smile as he or she climbs into a used car. This is a person who is not motivated by keeping up appearances. Other people may think they're cheap, but they're really programmed to pay themselves before anything else. It may have taken time to adjust to this life, but your date now has it down pat. Rather than deprivation, they feel a sense of accomplishment and reward. And of course, the true reward is future financial freedom. 

Whether or not you enjoyed the date probably depended upon a dozen factors other than a cup of tea. And whether or not you ever see this person again, it wouldn't be such a bad idea to pick up a few of his or her financial habits.

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