Tyra Banks is worth an estimated $90 million, according to CelebrityNetWorth.com, but the supermodel and businesswoman, who grew up pinching pennies, admits she has trouble spending money and actually ‘saved to a fault.’ But while she may have saved too much, pros say that saving more is something most of you should actually strive to do (and thanks to many savings accounts paying more than they have in about a decade — see the highest paying savings accounts here — savings is now more lucrative).
“I was always conservative. I was always more interested in experiences over things. Things didn’t make me happy. I saved, saved, saved. But I saved to a fault. About 15 years ago, my accountants pulled me aside and they were like ‘Tyra. You’re not spending money. Nothing. You’re just giving it away to the government. You need to spend some damn money!’ So we created something called the “F account.” Which was the “frivolous account.” And I had a budget to spend frivolously for the year, every year. I needed that to feel safe,” Banks told Money.com.
This begs the question — how much is too much to save? Some pros say to shut up and not worry about it, but others say you can save too much.
In the former camp is certified financial planner Gretchen Behnke of Pearl Financial Planning, who says saving too much is not a problem that needs to be solved. Indeed, she points out that most people need to save more, not less. Indeed a recent Northwestern Mutual survey revealed that Americans believe they need $1.25 million dollars in savings to live out a comfortable retirement, but in fact, the typical retirement account for an average American has just $86,869.
And certified financial planner Steven Gilbert of Gilbert Wealth says the question here is really, how much is too little to save. “If you plan on early retirement, starting a business, or are playing catch up with your savings, it’s important to save aggressively,” says Gilbert. What’s more, if your goals change, you can always ease off the savings gas, but if you don’t save enough, you’re putting your future in jeopardy. (See the highest paying savings accounts here.)
And even if you save a ton, you can probably find a use for it: “Most of the time, people are spending too much, but if someone has enough savings, let’s say 20 times their annual needs or more, they use excess funds for activities they have worked their lives for,” says certified financial planner Andrew Feldman or AJ Feldman Financial.
That said, if you’re saving so much it’s making you miserable — or making you miss out on important life experiences — you might want to take a look at what is really going on. Experts say some people save from a place of deeply entrenched financial anxiety and spending more can be therapeutic — an affirmation that they have enough. “If this will help you live a happier life, it’s likely time to spend more and save less. It’s counterintuitive, but many people can decrease their financial anxiety by spending more,” says certified financial planner David Born at Private Financial Management. Nevertheless, Born says the security and joy of having built substantial [wealth] and maintained a substantial nest egg is sometimes the greatest use of money.
And certified financial planner Chris Chen at Insight Financial Strategists says he likes to tell people that money has only one use: it’s there to be spent. “Your choices are today or tomorrow, yourself or someone else, like your kids. Yes, saving has a purpose like retirement, buying a house or sending your kids to college.” So if you’ve taken care of all your goals, planned for contingencies and feel like you aren’t spending the way you want to, it might now be time to.
How much should you personally be saving?
For one, nearly everyone needs an emergency fund of somewhere between 3-12 months of essential expenses socked away. “Save at least what your employer is offering in a match. If you’re under 30, save to a Roth account as your peak earning years are still in front of you, intentionally save 50% of each pay raise, and if you’re in a higher income bracket, set your savings bar even higher,” says Gilbert. (See the highest paying savings accounts here.)
Beyond that, it has a lot to do with life goals, Chen says. What do you want retirement to look like, do you want to buy a home, do you want to leave your kids an inheritance? “What is it that they want to do and are not for any number of reasons? When we have life goals determined, we can then align the financial goals with the life goals and then the focus changes from saving, investing and spending to living life,” says Chen.
Or as certified financial planner Steve Zakelj puts it: “It doesn’t matter if it’s Tyra Banks or Joe the Plumber, we all need to decide what our financial goals are and then put together a plan to reach them.”
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