What constitutes ‘real’ savings?

What is 'real' savings anyway?

I recognise this will vary. When we were broke uni students, a grand or two in the bank qualified as a little nest egg. These days, it’s probably something in the five-figure range.

The other day, though, I was carrying out a mystery shopping assignment at a bank. Part of my fake scenario was having ‘no real savings’, which was specified as no more than $30k max.

Call me crazy, but is that not sufficient to qualify as ‘real’ savings? That is a significant chunk of money. Particularly as I was also supposed to have a ridiculously small amount left on my fictional mortgage ($200k) so it’s not like I’d be saving hard for a down payment in this scenario. And, if you had much more than $30k, you’d most likely be investing it rather than have it sitting in a savings account anyway.

I tell you, I felt ridiculous sitting across from that bank staffer. I wound up specifying that I had $10k in the bank (the best lies are those that stick closely to the truth!) which she sort of chuckled/snorted at and said ‘that’s a lot!’ And I felt like apologetically adding ‘yep, had some help from the parents’ or ‘married a rich dude’ since there’s no way I would have that small of a mortgage balance at this age. It didn’t help that I think she thought I was even younger than I actually am.

If I’d been in her shoes, I would’ve hated me so much. She scored awesomely on the assignment, so at least there’s that. And who knows, she might have found out that I was the surveyor, and not a real customer.

How much would you say counts as ‘real’ savings, in your world?


11 thoughts on “What constitutes ‘real’ savings?

  • Reply Genie June 11, 2015 at 08:22

    I’m in my 30’s and I’ve never had more than 10k in the bank. I’ve also never been more than 10k in debt. A 200k mortgage doesn’t sound scary in today’s climate but not so long ago, it was a large mortgage. I don’t think uni students are expected to have real savings. Most have real debt.

  • Reply Revanche June 11, 2015 at 08:34

    There’s a vast gulf between “real” and “enough” savings for me. Anything above $5K (to use my broke college student days) is real enough, but it’s worlds away more than that to be real AND enough.

  • Reply That Blue House June 11, 2015 at 09:00

    uh I would def consider $30K more than enough, if it’s purpose is just to sit in the bank. Anything more than 15 or 20 I think needs to be invested .

  • Reply Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents June 11, 2015 at 11:43

    I feel like “real savings” is that amount at which you stop insanely stressing about emergency money and only stress moderately about emergency money. So, you know, super low when you’re young and have no concept of how expensive existence is and higher as you increase in needs or age. I agree with you though, $30k is definitely a lot. You have to wonder who was it that wrote the question and how does that guy do money?

  • Reply Amber June 11, 2015 at 15:52

    Haaa, I WISH I had 30k sitting in the bank right now. Not even closer. If you don’t count my retirement savings I have about $5k. If you count my retirement savings (which I usually don’t because it’s not for emergencies it’s for retirement!) we have closer to $20k.

  • Reply Sherry @ Save. Spend. Splurge. June 12, 2015 at 02:26

    anything over $5000 is real savings.

    • Reply The Asian Pear June 16, 2015 at 04:05

      I agree. That being said, I also would add that’s accounting for no debt and liquid assets only. So if your savings is tied to stocks, then that doesn’t count really.

  • Reply Amanda @ Move Love Eat June 12, 2015 at 07:23

    I agree with anything over $5k being decent savings, it’s enough that is your car breaks down or a big dentist bill pops up etc that you can pay it and still have a little left so your not stressing about $ day to day!

  • Reply Abigail @ipickuppennies June 12, 2015 at 11:41

    Well, we currently have $13,000 — soon to be $14,000 — in the bank. Doesn’t feel like real savings, but that may be the $25,000 oral surgery bill we’re saving for.

    I think I’d consider us to have “real” savings when it’s $10,000 free and clear. Maybe even $7,500. For as long as we’ve technically been in the black, we’ve had Tim’s teeth and some major home repairs looming. So I’ve never really felt like we actually had savings.

    I think I’ll feel comfortable when we have $15,000 – 20,000 without any known huge bills.

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie June 13, 2015 at 04:11

    10 years ago we felt great if we had 6K in savings and I would freak out if it dipped below 2K. These days it seems like we’re always saving for some short-term lump expense (summer spending since I don’t get paid in the summer, private school, planned job leaving, etc.), so we have ridiculous amounts in the savings account.

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank June 13, 2015 at 14:51

    Real savings for me is when you’re consistently hitting the expected of saving amount each month.

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