Tortoise vs. Hare: What Type of Saver Are You?

Photo (cc) by MyFWCmedia

We all know that saving more is a good idea, but we each have our own unique way of doing it. Like anything else in life, savers develop methods that work through trial and error, by matching their personalities to their tactics, and by leveraging strategies that play on their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

Through years of (quite unscientific) observation, I’ve noticed that regardless of age, education or background, savers come in standard varieties. And though they may tweak their approach over time, most fall loosely into one of six types:

1. The collector

Collectors subscribe to the “waste not, want not” approach to savings. They build their wealth by never tossing out anything that could possibly be reused or repurposed. From rubber bands to paper clips to hotel shampoos, collectors achieve stunningly robust savings accounts by minimizing their expenditures on the small stuff. Though it’s not an absolute, collectors tend to be made, not born. Often they pattern their behavior after a parent or relative who did the same thing, or they develop this strategy as a reaction to scarcity.

2. The die-hard haggler

Hagglers leverage their negotiation skills to get the best deals and build their nest eggs from the resulting savings. From cars to used lawnmowers and from bicycles to cellphone plans, die-hard hagglers know that price is often an abstract and flexible notion. Far from being embarrassed or intimidated by haggling, these folks revel in the process and relish their victories. The most successful hagglers also know that negotiation doesn’t have to be a win-lose proposition — that the best deals leave the seller feeling respected and the buyer feeling like he scored a bargain.

If you’d like to try your hand at a bit of friendly negotiation, start small. Ask if there’s any flexibility on pricing the next time you check into a hotel or buy something secondhand at a yard sale or through Craigslist. Once you have a few wins under your belt, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to build your skills quickly and expand your savings opportunities.

3. The tortoise

Forget the old children’s parable — both the tortoise and the hare can win in the savings race. Tortoises are slow, but they get the job done through their measured and methodical approach. With $1 here and $25 there, these types of savers accumulate wealth by watching every detail of their expenditures and socking away small amounts each and every month. Out of context, the tortoises’ approach may seem painfully tedious, but they have an uncanny ability to never lose sight of their financial goals and they can always make the connection between how small actions affect the big picture.

4. The hare

Don’t worry, this saver never naps on the job. Instead, hares focus on the big wins to build their savings by leaps and bounds (pun intended). Hares look for those opportunities to save hundreds or thousands in a single grand maneuver. This type of saver may not clip coupons or shop at thrift stores, but she will probably save her entire tax refund or bank her whole annual performance bonus. By nature, hares tend to save more sporadically than tortoises, but that irregularity is balanced by the shear size of each win.

5. The lifestyler

The lifestyler embraces everything about frugal living and saving. This is the person most likely to have both an “I brake for yard sales” bumper sticker on his car and a monogramed coupon organizer. Lifestylers believe that frugality is a virtue; they’re likely to openly discuss bargains and evangelize the frugal lifestyle with others. Rather than feel limited or confined by their frugal ways, lifestylers enjoy every minute of it, love the constant challenge, and celebrate the big and small successes.

6. The serial saver

Serial savers save aggressively — through a wide range of methods — to meet specific goals. Instead of adopting a permanent saving lifestyle, these folks view it as a means to an end and don’t get caught up in the philosophical or cultural aspects of frugal living. Whether they want to pay cash for a car, wipe out student loans or furnish a new home, serial savers have laser-like focus. As they meet each goal, they return to their previous spending styles and only revisit their saving strategies when the next target presents itself.

No matter how you define yourself or your saving style, the key is simple: Embrace what works. There’s no single type of saver that’s guaranteed to be more successful than any other; the important thing is to understand your motivations, have clear goals, a strategy that works, and the flexibility to change as opportunities present themselves.

So, what kind of saver are you? Have you evolved from one type to another or developed hybrid traits from more than one? Do you have one style while your partner has another? How do you balance different approaches within your family? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Ways Retailers Trick You Into Spending More
10 Ways Retailers Trick You Into Spending More

Think you’re a savvy shopper? Find out how retailers persuade you to dig more deeply into your wallet.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step
How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step

Here’s how I got the perfect appliance at the perfect price.

Avoiding These 5 Foods Could Save Your Vision as You Age
Avoiding These 5 Foods Could Save Your Vision as You Age

Millions of Americans may be able to prevent an incurable cause of blindness by making a basic change.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.