10 Minutes With … A Pragmatic Saver

Andrew Bussa

Andrew Bussa's Story

Saving comes naturally to Andrew, 30, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. When an injury forced him to drop out of the Navy ROTC just before graduation, Andrew moved in with his parents while he paid back nearly $80,000 in student loans. And when he lost his job during the Great Recession, Andrew packed up his car and moved to Colorado, where he now owns a home and works in consulting.

Andrew’s biggest financial goal: “I want my investment accounts to be worth more than my mortgage balance.”

OYO: What’s your money management approach?

Andrew B.: I believe in setting lots of good short-term goals, like fully funding my retirement account every year, and pushing myself to help my money grow. If it comes down to a tradeoff between buying a Porsche now or being a millionaire when I retire, I’d rather invest in the future.

OYO: Have you always been that way?

AB: Yes—I always saw myself as a saver. I recognized that even the small amounts add up. When I was a kid I was fascinated with the idea of compound interest. I'd go to the bank with my passbook and every three months they would give me more money just for not spending it. I thought that was really cool.

OYO: How did you learn about concepts like compound interest?

AB: My Depression-era grandparents taught me that when you get checks on your birthday, you take them to the bank. The fact that they were always talking about saving and the importance of having something stashed away had an impact on me. My parents explained different investment ideas and encouraged me to buy savings bonds and CD’s so my money would grow safely.

OYO: How has that attitude affected you as you’ve grown older?

AB: I'm not living my 10-year-old dream to be a racecar driver. I’m more comfortable with the regular American path: Get a job in an office, work hard and, in 40 years, retire.

OYO: What’s your plan for making that 40-year plan reality?

AB: I treat every purchase as if it were lost investment income. When considering a purchase, I apply a cost-of-capital discount rate. In other words, before spending money on some shiny new thing, I think, ‘What if I invest it and earn 8 percent?’ So, if there’s this $100 thing I want to buy, is it really worth $108 to me? It doesn’t keep me from buying anything, but it helps put impulse buys in perspective and slows down my decision making.