Save $2 per day to build retirement or general emergency savings

As we have noted multiple times, there is a retirement savings crisis in the United States. It impacts people of all income levels, whether low income families or higher earners. We have also noted the importance of saving money as well as starting early (at a reasonable age), and the example below shows how saving just $2 per day at the age of 18 can help you start to build the “foundation” for a retirement account. Or the funds can be used for any need.

Retirement savings are lacking in the US. But so is general “emergency savings”. Or any assets. The $2 per day approach, starting early (ideally at age 18) can be used for that need as well…or really anything; retirement, savings for buying a house, paying for college, emergency bills….anything.

Savings crisis in US

The saving crisis in the US is dire. It impacts all accounts and types. Whether retirement, college, technical school, general asset savings account…all savings are lacking.

  • 40% of Americans do not have $400 for an emergency bills.
  • 21% of Americans do not save anything for retirement, and ~40% of Americans save less than 5% of their income.
  • Americans in their 50s only average about $110,000 in retirement savings and those in their 40s about $63,000.

While surveys and data points do vary, the common theme (regardless of the source) is that there is a retirement and general savings crisis. But saving just a couple dollars per day, starting early, can help address this crisis. It also can help improve the financial literacy of youth.

How will saving $2 per day make a difference?

Saving just a couple dollars per day, starting at the age of 18, will put you way ahead of the game and put you in a better place than every one of those surveys above shows. Get this…save just $2 per day, starting at age 18, and you can have about $143,000 by the age of 58! This of course requires you to invest those $2 per day and earn a 7% annual return, which is less that the S&P 500 historical returns.

How is that possible? It is the magic of compounding. See the hard date below. It shows how that $2 per day grows over time, year after year.

How can I save $2 per day?

Are you really asking this question? Come on. We find it very hard for anyone to say they can’t save just $2 per day. Whether you are low income or not. And it gets easier in subsequent years due to the time veluw of money. To save, cut back on a few take out coffees each week. Use a few coupons when shopping each week. Do not do take out lunch one or two times per week. Get a roommate. Use online shopping codes. Buy in bulk. Put off buying that new smart phone or TV. Buy a used or affordable car. Or do any of hundreds of things to save $2 per day. Find a numerous ways to save money.

And if for some reason you truly, honestly can’t save $2 per day (which we find hard to believe)? Then make the money. Get a side hobby or project. Make money using smart phone apps or survey sites. Get a side gig. Sell stuff. Return cans for deposits. It is fairly simple to make a couple extra bucks a day, then save that money.

The data

The graph below shows that saving $2 per day, and investing it, can do for retirement or other savings. And quite frankly, this is what happens if you do $2 per day starting at age 18. But honestly, once you get into your 20s, 30s, etc. you should be able to save much more than the $2. However that extra money you may save in your 20s or 30s will not have as big an impact to the graph/data below as it will not have as much time to compound.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, or have a decent income, start saving a couple dollars per day early. Tell your kids to start saving at age 18 (or even earlier). Show them how it can help them build the “base” of a financial future or retirement account.



  1. Brittany

    If it was really that simple everyone would be rich! Ha! Like $2 a day does that – This don’t make sense and I bet this is a scam.

  2. Post

    The concept is 100% correct. In fact it is basic math. But several things.
    1) 143K is not “rich” today or in 40 years. In fact, in 40 years, 143K will be “worth” a fraction of what it is today due to inflation, time value of money, etc. Heck, the average salary in the US could be 143K per year in 40 years!
    2) This entire concept is basic math. Saving $2 per day, with that money growing and being re-invested, is basic math. Just plug it into a spreadsheet. This goes to our ongoing concern of lack of financial literacy in this country….people do not understand compound, money being reinvested, growth, etc.
    3) If you get a higher than 7% annual return (which the stock market has historically provided), then you would in fact have over 143K. So the math we used on saving $2 per day is in fact conservative.
    4) If you started before 18, such as opening a custodial account for a kid, then they would have a lot more than the 143K. Starting at 18 years old actually minimizes the amount of money someone would have. On the flip side of that, starting later than 18 drastically reduces the growth rates of that money.

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