Yesterday, I posted a brief recap of an article in the New York Times about people saving up money for down payments on homes. On that post, I received a comment from someone wondering why I called them “Super Savers” and I thought I would devote a post to it, because it brings up good points about how I now look at things.
I’ll single out the first couple, Janey Lee and Pablo AgÃ¼ero. They were saving $18,000/year with their $100,000 income. That comes out to 18% of their income being saved. Does 18% seem that impressive right off hand? It might not to some. But do I think it is? YES!
Here’s the big reason why:
I have no idea of all of the particulars of their life. The story in the New York Times only gave a glimpse into their financial lives and aside from sitting down with them and hearing their life story, there’s no way I can judge their spending against mine. Sure, there are the things like eating out and entertainment that can (for the most part) be reduced and/or eliminated for most of us. And from the article, it appears that they were targeting those areas. But I don’t know if perhaps one of them is paying child support, or helping to pay for an elderly relative’s nursing home, or if they give a percentage of their income to worthy causes…the list goes on and on. Until I know all of those details, I cannot say whether the percentage of income they were able to save was enough or not enough.
Now, since I don’t know about the particulars of their life, I look at their goal and what they accomplished. Janey and Pablo set a goal of saving a down payment for a home and they made changes in their lifestyle to make it happen. It took them 5 years to save that money, but they kept with it and made their dream happen. I have nothing but a great deal of respect for that. My guess is that they’ve learned a lot in the process and I hope they will have a brighter financial future because of it.
With my finances detailed on here for all of the world to see, probably the most difficult part is having people tell me that I am not doing enough. Sometimes they are spot on (like with our grocery spending), sometimes it’s a matter of them not knowing the whole story. There’s no way I can give everyone all of the details of how we live. Unless you can live in someone else’s shoes…you can’t know everything.
The same can apply to stories about debt reduction that you read. I’ve read a few debt reduction stories where people paid off over $30,000 of their debt (or some high number like that) in a year and they make $150,000/year. Before starting my debt reduction journey, the first thing out of my mouth was, “Of course they could do it, look at how much they make!” I don’t say that anymore, because I am missing the point. The point is that they had to change the lifestyle they were used to and stick to their goal. Again, nothing but respect for those who have done it. I understand now that I cannot compare my life to others.
To sum it all up, to compare lifestyle to lifestyle and merely looking at the numbers is dangerous and can have negative results on your morale. However, looking at what others have accomplished can provide a great source of inspiration.
That’s why I called those people “Super Savers.”