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Are you a born retirement saver?
Old 04-07-2013, 09:24 AM   #1
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Are you a born retirement saver?

Frankly I think I was/am. And fortunately so is my lifelong accountant (aka DW). My FI progress was probably 90% instinct and luck and 10% intelligence. And I lose sight of my good luck in this regard from time to time (impacting my perspective re: post replies at times), especially running with this crowd...
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Are some people born to save and others not? Is it nature or is it nurture? Well, a new study on this age-old debate suggests that—at least when it comes to saving for retirement—it’s more nature than nurture. You are either hard wired to save or not.
Are you a born retirement saver? - Robert Powell - MarketWatch
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:47 AM   #2
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I saw this article & agree with much of it. Always found it curious that kids from same family could have very different attitudes about $$. Some save every penny of their $ (from allowance, gifts, etc) while their sib's spend, spend, spend. That said, many do change their saving habits over the yrs so not sure it's all "hard-wired" either.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:01 AM   #3
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My parents were teenagers during the great depression. My saving is a product of their nurture. People are born to seek pleasure and everything about delayed gratification, IMO, is learned.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:44 AM   #4
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Mine too, and I can not believe, nor begin to tell all of the lessons taught thru their frugal lifestyle.

What the heck did I know, growing up in WVa, I never suspected a higher lifestyle until college, later relocating to NJ.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:59 AM   #5
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For me, this is a key line from the article:

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But if you are the sort of person who has healthy habits, you are more likely to born to save for retirement than not.
So it is a question of instilling those healthy habits (which the article gives examples of). Some folks are born with it, some learn them (sometimes after a scare from an unhealthy habit), and others never come around. How you are raised can influence (but not guarantee) these habits, in my view.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:46 AM   #6
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My parents were teenagers during the great depression. My saving is a product of their nurture. People are born to seek pleasure and everything about delayed gratification, IMO, is learned.
If you were raised by your biological parents you, in fact, don't know that it is nurture. It could just as easily be nature. Or, a combination of both.

For example, I was raised by parents who also were highly influenced by the Great Depression. They were very frugal and were big savers, paid off their mortgage years early. My mother (now a widow) still lives in the same house that they bought a few years before I was born. They took great efforts to teach me the virtues of saving and frugality.

Me? Not much of a saver. Not frugal. It used to drive my mother crazy. In fact, I hated, hated, hated what I saw as their excess frugality. I couldn't wait to get away and not have to be frugal all the time. I wanted to do new things, go on vacations and not stay at cheap motels, buy nice clothes, etc. So, I did.

Now - you might say well this was a failure of nurture somehow.

But - I was adopted. I am not biologically related to my parents. So that might make one think that it is nature.

But - I found my birthmother about 15 years ago and we have an ongoing relationship. I have 3 half-siblings. They are quite like my adoptive parents. They don't waste money. I would say my birthmother is a tad looser than my adoptive parents. She has a computer and has high speed internet, for example. But still mostly like my adoptive parents.

So maybe nature isn't the answer either. But - from what my birthmother tells me my about birthfather (I haven't been able to find him), he sounds like more like a live it up kinda guy. So maybe my nature is from him....

I did eventually get to a point of being more frugal, but that wasn't for many years, when I was 50ish.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:57 AM   #7
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I think this is another version of the "marshmallo Test" where youngsters are given a choice of one marshmallo now, vs 2 if they wait 10mins. Some version of this test has been done all over the world with similar results - about 2/3's take the prize now. When followed up later, the results hold up with age. So yes, we appear to be hardwired.
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Old 04-07-2013, 12:01 PM   #8
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For those young southern kinfolk of mine who think the Rapture is going to preclude their need for retirement savings, I would definitely say it's nurture.

Edit: DH is hardwired to save, and I am sure he got that from his mother. I came from 2 parents who never met a credit card they didn't like, or new cars, or new electronics. All 4 of their kids turned into similar spenders. My brothers are into the new 'toys,' and I inherited my mom's love of "If it fits, buy one in every color."

However, I have had the nurture of being married to DH, so he's tempered me quite a bit over the years. It is thanks to him that we both got into IRAs and 401(k)s when we first married. He has always counseled to save first and then spend for fun stuff.

Over the years, though, I have become the one in the family for the Saturday morning "count the shekels" routine for our retirement accounts, and now I am the one who manages the family portfolio.

He still has a death grip on the 'liquid' savings, though, I'll tell you that!
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Old 04-07-2013, 12:07 PM   #9
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Are you a born retirement saver?

I was a saver all through life until I retired. Now it is spend, spend, spend. Not really, old habits (even good ones like saving) are hard to break. In the process of increasing spending to the point of equilibrium between income and out-go.
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Old 04-07-2013, 12:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by bjorn2bgy View Post
I think this is another version of the "marshmallo Test" where youngsters are given a choice of one marshmallo now, vs 2 if they wait 10mins. Some version of this test has been done all over the world with similar results - about 2/3's take the prize now. When followed up later, the results hold up with age. So yes, we appear to be hardwired.
Sorry about that, my browser froze on the link the first time.
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:08 PM   #11
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I started saving young, but needed the discipline of auttomatic withdrawals. Once set up, it was easy to forget they existed, for the most part. I doubt I would have made it elsewise.
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:42 PM   #12
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Yes!

I have always been a saver. Now that I am retired I still save. It's about $1500-$1900 a month from my pension and SS, neither is huge but I LBMM. Always did and always will, can't change but I do spend money.

You'd die if you knew how much I have spent in the past 6 weeks (so lately I'm probably closer to $1500 a month) on something many people, especially in this state, think is evil... but it is legal. Normally I consider any purchase very carefully and evaluate whether I need it and IF the price is right. Lately I buy no matter what the price is and that's a shock when I think about it but I'm not worried cuz I can afford it. Now the purchase (money spent) I made the other day, OH BROTHER!
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:55 PM   #13
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My parents were teenagers during the great depression. My saving is a product of their nurture. People are born to seek pleasure and everything about delayed gratification, IMO, is learned.
Indeed, I think this is where I got my inclinations. And boy am I glad I did, after seeing the quandrie$ some of my friends are in at this age.
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:55 PM   #14
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Been a good saver since I was a kid. My kids seem to be good savers/investors too. Perhaps some of it rubbed off.

I've LBYMing before I could spell LBYM.
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:29 PM   #15
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I think for some obviously saving is more difficult because of their economic circumstances. But my sense is that the premise of the research was that all things being equal, some by nature may be better savers than others.

I recently read a book by Richard Davidson about personality styles. In it he describes among other traits, one's outlook and how that manifests itself in our personality style. We all fall on an "outlook" continuum with very rosey or very gloomy being at either end. He suggests that those with a very rosey outlook may live much more in the moment and may have more difficulty with delayed gratification.

Personally, I learned the virtues of savings early in life and was fortunate to have earned enough to put some money aside and also to marry someone who shared the same financial goals.
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:34 PM   #16
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Born saver here, although when I began my full-time working career I was not maxing out my 401(k) savings eligible for the company match because I was saving up to buy my apartment. After that, I upped it to the max for company match. LAter on, when ER became a possibility, I became ineligible for company match so I stopped contributing to my 401(k) so I could max out my taxable accounts for ER.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:00 PM   #17
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I was a horrible saver at 8 years old and spent my 50 cent allowance almost immediately. My sister saved all of her 50 cent allowance and bought mom, dad and I small gifts with her savings. I became an immediate convert. As an adult she spent while I saved. I'd have to say nature plays little role for sis and I.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:31 PM   #18
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I have always been a saver. I was lucky to have married a frugal wife, too. I will be retiring in less than a year. I know my retirement will be much more than my peers at work since I know they don't save and don't know much about investing.

I also believe in generational cycles:

In this country, there is a 3 generation money cycle.
1st generation makes money.
2nd generation maintains the capital.
3rd generation spends the money.

This also helps explain the cycles of growth and depressions.

1st generation has the memory of poverty, (Great Depression,
Immigration, a couple of World Wars), and works hard.

2nd generation has the spoken memory of poverty by living with their
parents. This generation has progressed financially in the work place
and they provide a better life for their children that they themselves had.

3rd generation does not have a memory of poverty and thinks they will
always have money, so they spend.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:33 PM   #19
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Another born saver. My parents were pretty average savers. Although dad did retire at 55 so I guess that counts as a being a saver. One of my sisters is very frugal. My other sister is average but married to a spender. Of her two kids one is a financial disaster and the other homeschooling 3 kids on minister salary, would give any of our forum regulars a run for a LBYM champ.

I picked up saving/investment from grandfather. But overall I think my family as pretty strong saving genes.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:44 PM   #20
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Interesting. I was frugal out of necessity (low pay) and then out of realization that I needed $ for retirement. Now that I'm retired I'm indulging myself more, because I don't have any kids to leave it to, and I want to travel & have some fun while I'm younger. I'm sure I'll spend less in 10 years (inflation-adjusted).

So I'm going out of town several times this year on vacation, including Italy. Two cruises... As I say, this may be an anomaly
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