Updated May 18, 2016

23 Dizzying Average American Savings Statistics

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Everyone wants to save more money, but figuring out how to do it is usually the hardest part. While the economy is continuing its slow recovery, many Americans still struggle with being able to set aside a little something for the future. Millennials, in particular, are facing a tougher uphill climb as they face a tougher job market and big student loan bills.

© Richard Elzey (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Finding more money in your budget begins with cutting out unnecessary expenses. Sometimes, though, that still isn't enough to put you in the black. CreditDonkey decided to dig a little deeper into how much people are actually saving in the U.S., and what we found was surprising, to say the least.

MEASURING THE SAVING HABIT

Some people are naturals when it comes to saving while others have to work a little harder to build the habit. The statistics we uncovered show that a shocking number of Americans have no savings at all, and that those who are saving are setting aside less money than they have in previous years.

1. How many Americans have zero savings?
The number of Americans who have no cash in the bank to fall back on is staggering. Approximately 26% of adults have no savings set aside for emergencies, while another 36% have yet to start socking away money for retirement.

2. What's the average bank account balance?
While millions of Americans have no savings, many of them have managed to stash a few bucks in their checking account. As of 2013, the average bank account balance hovered around $4,436.

3. What is the personal savings rate in the U.S.?
The personal savings rate is the average amount of earnings people in the U.S. are putting away for rainy days. Through the end of 2014, the rate was 4.4%, which is a steep decline from the 10.5% rate in 2012.

4. How many adults don't have a bank account?
Saving money is tough when you don't have a place to park it. Approximately 7.7% of American households function without a bank account. That's close to 10 million households altogether.

5. How many adults live paycheck to paycheck?
An estimated 38 million households in the U.S. live hand to mouth, meaning they spend every penny of their paychecks. Surprisingly, two-thirds of them earn a median income of $41,000, which puts them well above the federal poverty level.

HOW SAVERS COMPARE DEMOGRAPHICALLY

Aside from how much money you make and what your expenses are, there are a number of other factors that can determine whether you're able to save money. Specifically, we considered how race, age and geographic location influence individual saving patterns.

6. Does race impact savings rates?
Research suggests that racial minorities face a tougher road when it comes to saving money. Around 75% of Latino and African American households have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and nearly two-thirds of minority households don't have anything set aside for the future.

7. Which generation is the best at saving?
Baby boomers tend to do better when it comes to hanging on to their extra money. Adults aged 55 and older have a positive personal savings rate of about 13%.

8. Which one is the worst?
Millennials, on the other hand, meaning adults who are 35 and under, have a personal savings rate of negative 2%. Between high student loan debt and stagnating wages, saving anything at all proves to be impossible for many of them.

9. Which cities are the best for savers?
Some cities make saving easier than others, thanks to higher wages and a lower cost of living. Through 2014, Baltimore made the top of the list, with a median household income of $73,816 and median expenses of $49,566.

10. Which ones are the worst?
If you like the desert, you'll want to move somewhere other than Phoenix if you're trying to save money. Residents here face median expenses that are $1,136 higher than the median annual income.

SAVING FOR EMERGENCIES

Having an emergency cash buffer in place is a must if you want to safeguard yourself against potential financial disaster. While finance experts vary in their estimates of how much you need to save, they all agree that having that cushion is a necessity. Based on the numbers, however, it seems that far too many Americans don't have adequate protection.

11. How many Americans have less than $100 in emergency savings?
Almost half of Americans would not be able to cover an unexpected expense of $500 or less. Almost a quarter would not be able to cover even $100. An estimated 22.9% of men and 22.7% of women say they don't have at least a Benjamin in their emergency fund.

12. How many Americans have less than $500 saved?
Having $500 in the bank for emergencies can give you a sense of financial security but for 41% of adults, it's still a pipe dream.

13. What percentage of Americans have a three-month emergency fund?
Saving three months' worth of expenses is a lofty goal. In a survey when Americans were asked if they have a 3 to 5 month emergency fund, just 17% said they do.

14. How many have six months' worth of expenses saved?
Twenty-three percent of adults surveyed acknowledge having an emergency fund that could last them at least six months.

15. Who's more likely to have an emergency fund?
Age, income and race play a part in determining how Americans save for emergencies. For example, 36% of retirees have a 6-month emergency account compared to 16% of 18 to 29-year-olds. Ten percent of college grads lack any savings versus 36% of those with a high school diploma or less.

PLANNING FOR RETIREMENT

With Social Security payouts expected to decrease to about 75% of their current limit over the next several decades, planning for a secure retirement has become more important than ever. Unfortunately, study after study shows that millions of workers are lagging behind on their savings goals.

16. How many Americans aren't saving for retirement?
The sooner you start saving for retirement, the better - but that's something 36% of adults haven't gotten around to yet. More than a quarter of adults aged 50 to 64 aren't saving anything for their golden years.

17. How much do savers expect to need when they retire?
How much cash you'll need in retirement will vary based on your current income and expenses. Among middle-class workers, $250,000 is the median amount they're aiming to save.

18. How much are they saving each month?
Building up a quarter of a million dollars in savings takes time, and many adults may fall short. On average, workers aged 30 to 49 are saving $200 a month for retirement while those aged 50 to 59 are adding a mere $78 to their accounts.

19. What's the average 401(k) balance?
At the end of 2013, the average 401(k) balance was a healthy $101,650. The median balance, however, was just $31,396, which means that half of the workers participating in their employer's retirement had that much or more while the other half had less.

20. How much are people contributing to their 401(k)?
While 93% of middle-class workers are participating to a 401(k) plan, 67% of them are only saving enough to qualify for the company match. The median contribution amount for those between 30 and 59 years of age is 7% of their salary.

21. What's the median net worth in America?
Among seniors aged 55 to 64, the median net worth is around $165,000. By comparison, those in the 35 to 44 range boast a net worth of about $50,000. The 18 to 34-year-old millennial set fare the worst, with a net worth of $11,000.

22. How worried are Americans about their financial future?
Being prepared for retirement is a top financial concern for Americans; 59% say that running out of money is their number one fear.

23. How many Americans say they'll never retire?
Working past retirement age has unfortunately become a reality for many seniors. In 2013, 7% of employees said they plan to stay on the job indefinitely. That's a big jump from the 2% who made the same claim in 2011.

CONCLUSION

Saving money should be a priority for everyone but as evidenced by the statistics we found, it's not necessarily a cakewalk. Sometimes it's as simple as cutting out that daily latte but for other Americans, their financial reality presents some much bigger obstacles.

For more helpful tips to get started on that savings paths, check out these articles:

Sources and References

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Comments about 23 Dizzying Average American Savings Statistics

  • Kenny from Arizona
    on March 3, 2016 9:07 PM said:

    I don't know if this was intentional but there is a nice silver quarter in that picture.

  • John L. from New York
    on April 23, 2016 1:42 PM said:

    These facts are incredibly depressing. If one thing there is one thing I have learned in life, it is not to value the materialistic things so much. Grow up, raise a family if you want, but always live well under your means. Save as much money as cost of living permits and treat yourself once in a while, but always keep your eyes on the prize--the experience of life itself. There is a lot to be learned and experience that is relatively inexpensive compared to material excess and keeping up with the Joneses. My goals are to save atleast half of my salary for retirement through a 401k with a 3-4% return on that money until I convert over to safer investments like bonds and such. When I was a kid I always wanted the newest things but I have come to live a much more fulfilling life and happy one without them. For thousands of years humans have lived without the newest iPhone, tesla cars and things like video games. Live in moderation and enjoy yourself sometimes, but as I said, always try to live within or under your means.

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