Saving money is important if you want to reach both short-term and long-term financial goals. For example, people are saving for retirement, a vacation, or to build up an emergency fund — or all three.
Saving, of course, is easier said than done.
According to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey, 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in liquid savings — much less than an unexpected emergency could cost. Northwestern Mutual surveyed 2,003 adults 18 and up and found that 21% of Americans have no retirement savings at all.
Krista Neeley, managing vice president of Appreciation Financial, told Business Insider that a great way to jump-start your short-term savings is to set up your bank account to auto-draft a specific dollar amount from your checking to savings on a specific date, just like you’re paying a bill.
For long-term savings, Neeley said that saving in your employer’s retirement plan, where you contribute money through a payroll deduction, is a good idea. “The benefit of this is that you can save for the future without even seeing the moneyleave your bank account,” she said.
How much someone has in their savings account is going to vary based on their income, goals, and lifestyle. Here, 10 people reveal how much they have in savingsand how they got there. The answers have been edited for length and clarity.
1. Alex, 20, $11,000
I’m a college student and the owner of Unstung Media. I have over $11,000 in savings currently, and I received absolutely zero dollars from my family in funding my savings account.
I’ve been working since I turned 15 years old, which helped build my savings, as I had no bills to pay in high school. When I entered college, I started my business, which helped me earn about eight times per hour what I could make at a typical student job.
I’ve never splurged on fancy clothing, a new car, or a vacation, and that’s how I’ve saved over $11,000 at 20 years old.
2. Daniella, 28, $24,000
My wife and I have been able to save $24,000 since the beginning of this year, thanks to the side hustle I started about a year ago. My blog, iliketodabble.com, is about achieving financial freedom through side hustles and aggressive saving, and has helped me apply the same lessons to my own life.
We were saving before this year, but those funds ended up going to emergencies and a new vehicle. We started the New Year with an empty savings account — but my side hustle has gotten us to $24,000.
Additionally, my wife has a side hustle flipping guitars on eBay. We use our main income for bills and necessities, and everything else goes into savings or back into the side businesses. We also use budgeting sheets and look at everything we spend and where it’s going to see if there is any room for improvement each month.
3. Rob, 51, $3,500
I have about $3,500 in savings, which is kind of pathetic for a 51-year-old person. My savings has been practically non-existent my entire adult life, until a year ago, when I finally promised myself not to touch it.
I fund my savings with an automatic $50 weekly transfer from my checking account, and I have for years — but I always ended up using it for vacations or unexpected expenses. It never went much above $1,000.
Finally, last year, I decided to get a prepaid credit card that I also fund at $50/week. I use the card for my unexpected expenses and haven’t touched my savings since then. I am not sure how long I can continue this, but it feels good knowing I can cover most emergencies.
4. Todd, 30, $58,000
I recently turned 30 and now have $58,000 saved — about $30,000 is savings and the rest is in a rollover IRA and a Roth IRA. I’m on track to save close to 60% of my income this year and pass $100,000 in savings in 2019.
I started updating and taking my finances more seriously in 2014 when I only had $1,000 in savings, had recently lost my job, and still had student loans and a car loan.
First, I learned everything I could about investing (including reading books and blogs), IRAs, and having a brokerage account in addition to a savings account. It’s easier to understand finances than you think — I had zero background in finance/investing prior to 2014 and have since founded Invested Wallet.
Second, I created a spreadsheet of all my bills, loans, and other spending, and this painted a picture of what I could cut out immediately to save some money. Then I started paying myself first. Instead of paying bills first, I automatically saved money for my Roth IRA and savings account before I did anything else, and this kept me disciplined to save consistently.
Next, I increased my career worth to get a bigger salary, which then allowed me to save even more money.
Finally, I live below my means. Instead of taking my new salary and buying a fancy car or larger house, I’ve used that money to pay off loans faster and save even more money.
5. Malorie, 22, $1,200
I’m a new mom and my savings consists of $1,200. I know it’s not much, but since I live paycheck-to-paycheck, it took me over a year to save. I did it by taking at least $5 from every check and adding it to my savings, plus any money I could save by being extra frugal.
6. Stacy, 26, $20,000
I have $20,000 saved, not including my 401(k) or investments. I try to keep a low cost of living, specifically rent, while still allowing myself to do fun things. I’m always careful to save a lot relative to my income.
7. Marissa, 24, $18,000
I have $18,000 in my savings account. I commuted all four years of college, and living at home while working allowed me to set aside that much. I worked multiple jobs and paid internships every semester of college, and I was also hired for an entry-level position a week before I graduated.
I paid off loans throughout my time in college, making double the monthly payment that was required until they were paid off. I paid off my student loans in three years!
When I started working, I split my paycheck four ways: 25% for my car loan, 25% for my student loan payment, 25% for my savings account, and 25% for other spending.
Once my car and loans were eventually paid off, I would give myself $500 max as spending money until my next paycheck (I got paid twice a month), and then put the rest into savings. Most of my friends do not have savings or are struggling financially, so I’m happy that my hard work paid off!
8. Danielle, 23, $51,000
I have approximately $51,000 in my savings account (my salary is $40,000 a year). I was very lucky and my family was able to pay for my education, so I don’t have any student loan debt, and I also inherited $15,000 from my grandmother last year.
Beyond being fortunate in that way, I live extremely under my means in order to build a little nest egg. I drive a janky old Honda with a broken radio and 200,000 miles on it, rent a room from a family member to save money on rent, don’t shop according to trends (buying classic basics instead), and try to always get things on sale.
I know I had a head start because of my family, but I’m trying to build upon that to break the millennial stereotype of never being a homeowner, especially in California.
9. Mark, 37, $10,000
I’m married with two kids. As the sole earner in the household, it’s difficult to save. We only have about $10,000 in our savings account, and just enough in checking to cover the mortgage, credit card, utilities, life/car/home insurance, etc.
I started a 401(k) in 2013 and a Roth IRA in May of this year. I started a bit late in the game, so I’m holding only about $26,000 across those accounts. We also have 529 college savings plan accounts for our children.
I had very little interest in saving for retirement up until a few months ago. I was listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio, who recommends investing 15% of your income in good-growth mutual funds, and I feel really good about my family’s future now that we have a retirement strategy.
The best way to save, in my opinion, is to utilize 401(k) and Roth IRA accounts. The 401(k) contributions come right out of my paycheck, so I never miss them. And the Roth IRA contributions are a monthly transaction from my checking account, so I don’t have to think about it.
10. Lyn, 30, $205,000
I have $205,000 saved — about $40,000 is savings and about $165,000 is investments. Eight years ago, I had just finished college and had $50,000 in student debt — and a negative net worth. Since then, I had a few significant health issues that cost thousands of dollars per year for several years, plus I had to start permanently financially supporting my mother while in my 20s.
Despite that, I’ve eliminated my debt, built up a solid net worth, and even started a personal finance and investing site, LynAlden.com. I achieved this by consistently increasing my income and maintaining a high savings rate, with good investment returns, as well.
I earned a graduate degree and moved up the ranks at work quickly, and I also developed side hustles to bring in an extra four figures each year. People often underestimate the impact of side hustles, but if someone in their 20s makes $40,000 per year after taxes and spends $30,000 per year on expenses and loan payments, that leaves them with $10,000 per year for saving and investing.
However, if they can bring in an extra $10,000 per year in after-tax side income while keeping their expenses flat, it not only means an increase in their total income by 25%, but also an increase in their savings rate by 100%, from $10,000 to $20,000. That’s huge!
This article originally appeared on BusinessInsider.com.