Sunday, October 07, 2012

Saving More Each Month than I Earned as a Graduate Student in a Year

As a relatively old PF blogger :) I've occasionally mentioned that young people shouldn't worry too much about saving for retirement and should enjoy life. Of course, if you are earning a high salary when you are young then go ahead and save. But there is no sense in depriving yourself if your income is low and expected to increase. I just realized that our average saving (not counting investment returns) per month is now more than I earned in a year as a graduate student twenty years ago. I earned between $9k and $10k a year back then (around 1992). Yes, prices have probably about doubled since then, and the Australian Dollar is extremely strong now which makes our current savings particularly high in US Dollar terms, but then let's say we save in 3 months what I earned in a year in real terms and we would not be wrong. Back then I was spending more than I earned then but not dramatically so. I ended up with a negative net worth of about $11k. I expected to certainly earn more in the future than I was then and so thought this was entirely justified. On the other hand, my Dad told me I should be saving money. Of course, maybe that was because he was lending me money :) * I think the investment in my graduate education has certainly paid off. Of course, it might not have but it was hard for me to imagine that I wouldn't be earning a lot more in some job in the future.

But, I think you'll find that most people save the most for retirement in the years leading up to retirement despite all the rhetoric from the financial management industry about starting early and compounding. There is a good reason for this - their income is highest here and for most people other life expenditures are maybe declining (buying a house, having children). The latter isn't the case for us, of course. We are still looking at buying our first house.

* About $9,000 by the end. I was studying in the US as a foreign student so my ability to work while studying was very limited and I depended on what the university would pay me as a grad student. After I paid off my credit card bills in 1995 I started to pay him back. I owed about £5k when he cancelled the loan after he sold some art works he inherited 25 years earlier.

1 comment:

Financial Independence said...

I am totally agree with you. While aiming for financial independence there is no reason to refrain from living.

A lot of people trying to avoid Starbucks coffee and save as much as you can...but a lot of the thing only accessible and fun when we are young... you won't be enjoying them as much when you are in your 60+....