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Average

March 15, 2010

T asked how much I was saving in my 401k right now.  “Twenty one percent.  I was saving less at the begining of the year, so I had to increase it to max it out.”

“Wow.  That’s a lot.  Most people only save like 8%”

He’s probably right.  Most people might not even save 8%!  But being part of the pf blogger crowed, maxing out a 401k seems par for the course.

Ok, that isn’t true — a lot of people are saving for other things, getting out of debt, or just not able to save that much.  I know that.  But putting away 21% doesn’t feel extreme.  It feels normal.

From another view, I went for an 8 mile run Saturday morning.  Eight miles is the farthest I’ve ran (so far!) and I’m not going to lie, it was hard (in a good way).  Yet I saw about 100 other runners out and about, and running just seemed to be the most normal thing to do on a Saturday morning.  In my mind, I assumed they were all out for long 10+ mile runs.  When I think about runners, I compare myself to those who run marathons (or ultra marathons!) — eight miles is nothing!  It’s just an average distance!

I look up to people who are striving for the same (or better) things that I am, rather than the norm.  Who cares what the average person is doing?!?  I interested in what someone a few notches above where I am is doing!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2010 9:33 am

    If you ONLY pay attention to what the “average” people are doing, that’s all you’ll ever be able to compare yourself to! I think its great that you ignore the average….going further won’t seem as daunting, and you won’t be tempted to settle back into the average.

    That being said, 21% and 8 miles IS a lot, so be proud! (Just don’t settle.) lol

  2. March 15, 2010 9:53 am

    Those runners are probably in their taper for the L.A. marathon next week. But their taper is still about 8 miles more than what I ran on Sunday morning!

    Nobody wants to be average, but I think it is important to focus on yourself and what makes you happy, and not compare yourself to others. Although I am guilty of that all the time. It pushes you to become better!

    • SP permalink*
      March 15, 2010 11:37 am

      I find it difficult for me to push forward without looking around and seeing what others are doing. The comparision isn’t meant to be competitive, but just to help me focus myself. If that makes sense.

      Sometimes I’m looking at people who are below average as role models, as long as they are still doing something better than I am!

  3. March 15, 2010 10:15 am

    What a great post!

    I think the key isn’t to compare yourself to anyone, but instead do what is right FOR YOU!

    21% may seem like a lot to some, too little for others – but what matters is what is right for you.

    Also, I think 8 miles is a lot because I couldn’t do that now. =)

    • SP permalink*
      March 15, 2010 11:40 am

      I’m not saying that I’m not happy with where I am at in either of these respects, or that I feel discouraged when I look at olympians and warren buffet! I know my capabilities and I want to push them further. Comparing helps me do that — “if he can do it, so can I!”

      I sometimes have to look beyond myself to see what might be right for me, and for inspiration. I can’t imagine not doing that at all and drawing everything from within.

  4. March 15, 2010 1:01 pm

    I try to max out my Roth, not my 403(b) which is what I get from work. If they matched, I would contribute up to the match, but they just put in a percentage of my income

  5. March 15, 2010 3:56 pm

    Sometimes I think I focus too much on what otehr PF bloggers are doing. If I’m not shopping at thrift stores or not earning side income, that makes me a little bit lazy in terms of the PF blogosphere. In terms of “normal” people, though, I’m definitely doing above average.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking to others for motivation. If you’ve never thought to do something, seeing someone else accomplish it could inspire you!

  6. March 15, 2010 9:24 pm

    21% is pretty high 🙂 I’m only at 10% withholding on my 401k and maxing out a Roth on the side. But our ESOP is structured as a retirement plan too, so altogether with matching etc it would equal 41% of pay.

    This is a self selecting group of PF overachievers, it’s not a good comparison to the average person. Of course even being average among this group means you’re doing pretty awesome, it can be good motivation. I credit my blog to helping grow our net worth, it’s good company to keep.

  7. sfordinarygirl permalink
    March 17, 2010 9:22 am

    In the end focusing on your goals is the most important factor after all. It’s all too easy to think of what others are doing. And when we get into that mindset, we become too driven and competetive. I thought running 6 miles regularly was nothing or 13 on occassion was nothing. Then I met a man recently with polio on crutches who’s walking the Sahara ultramarathon next month. I feel below average in that comparison! But it’s the dedication, focus and consistency that matter most. And the fact that you’re tracking your time says a lot.

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