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Saving for Retirement as the Small Business Grows: Meet a Super Saver

By Emily E. Smith

  • PUBLISHED January 22
  • |

Sarah Sutton and her husband, Karl, embarked on an ambitious career venture eight years ago when they decided to open a food truck in Portland, Maine. Like many entrepreneurs, they sank everything they had into the fledgling business, and also took on debt to make it viable.

“It was very scary,” says Sutton. “It took a lot of gumption and blind faith. But we just really believed in what we were doing.”

In the beginning, Sutton and Karl staffed the food truck, which offers locally sourced lobster rolls, on their own. Their business, Bite into Maine, has since grown to three locations and more than 20 employees.

The growth was slow and steady, Sutton says. Within a few years, they were making enough money to start paying off their debt and build their retirement savings. Sutton says the couple’s main strategy for paying off their $30,000 loan was to chip away at it consistently, a little bit at a time. They paid more whenever they could, which meant that most years they made larger payments in the summertime, when their trucks earned the most.

After they repaid their loan, the couple began aggressively contributing to their retirement accounts, including IRAs. Their approach to reaching their financial goals is similar to their method for creating a successful business: It’s based on perseverance, Sutton says. “When we make a decision, we go all in, and we keep going even when we face a long, uphill battle,” she says.

The journey—from risking everything, to seeing their business blossom, to investing in their future—hasn’t been easy, but it’s been rewarding, Sutton says. “Being able to put money aside means that much more to me now, especially since we work for ourselves,” says Sutton.

Sutton says she’s learned the value of sticking to your vision, believing in yourself, and not giving up. She and her husband plan to rely on that same perseverance for their next goal: owning a commercial space that houses their future brick-and-mortar restaurant. 


Emily E. Smith is a freelance writer in Bozeman, MT. She writes for national and regional publications on topics ranging from personal finance to crime to wild animals. Her work has appeared in the The Guardian, Smithsonian magazine and Atlas Obscura.

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