What differentiates big retirement savers among millennials and Gen Xers from everyone else?
It’s a question that Principal Financial Group posed to a couple of thousand participants in defined contribution plans who contribute 70% or more of the allowable maximum, which is $19,000 for 2019.
The survey divided this group in two: those who saved 90% or more of the maximum allowed, or $17,100, called super savers, and those who saved 70% to 89% of the maximum allowed, starting at $13,300, termed pre-super savers.
Not surprisingly, super savers, usually even more than pre-super savers, were motivated by wanting to feel financially secure (62%), to have a good lifestyle in retirement (57%) and to be prepared for the unexpected (43%).
Super savers and pre-super savers were almost equally willing to make some sacrifices in purchases and services consumed in order to save more. Roughly 40% of both groups said they were driving older vehicles, owning a modest home, traveling less than they preferred and engaged in do-it-yourself projects instead of hiring outside help.
Few reported delaying starting a family (12%) or not saving enough for their kids’ college education (9%) in order to save more.
“They were willing to do less … but they’re not miserable, still willing watching “Seinfeld” on Netflix, “Mr. Robot” on Amazon Prime, and still traveling, still eating out,” says Jerry Patterson, senior vice president, Retirement & Income Solutions at Principal. “It’s just that they’re balancing better.”
Seventy-one percent of super savers reported they starting saving for retirement when they were in their 20s, which may reflect their lack of confidence in Social Security. Just 34% of super savers and 37% of pre-super savers said they include Social Security benefits in their financial planning, suggesting that well more than half don’t have much confidence of collecting benefits when they retire. But 43% of both groups said they were confident about saving for retirement.
One reason for that confidence could be the high percentage of both groups who report working with a financial advisor — 41% of super savers and 42% of pre-super savers. Another 20% or so of both groups currently don’t work with an advisor but plan to in the future.
Despite those connections with a financial advisor, only 2% of both groups said a financial advisor influenced their savings habits; 34% said a parent did.
Although roughly one-third of both groups plan to retire between 60 and 64 and close to 40% plan to retire between 65 and 70, one-quarter of super savers and 18% of pre-super savers expect to retire between 50 and 59.
Despite their savings behavior, a whopping 81% of both groups said they learned little to nothing about personal finance in school, and 98% believed they should have received that education before graduating from high school.