How much Americans have in savings

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A financially-secure retirement has three nest eggs:

  1. Pension, which is rapidly vanishing for many working Americans.
  2. Social Security: Although Social Security was never intended to be a retiree’s sole source of income, 35% of Americans over the age of 65 rely almost entirely on Social Security payments. (Accounting Degree Review)
  3. Savings: Experts say you should have 5 times your annual salary saved by age 50, 6 times by age 55, and 7 times by age 60.

Again and again, we’ve been told that the average American has too little in savings. According to a 2016 GOBankingRates survey, 35% of all U.S. adults had only several hundred dollars in their savings accounts; 34% had zero savings.

More recently, the news is no better.

Kathleen Elkins reports for CNBC, Oct. 8, 2018, that the median American household has just $11,700 in total savings. That means half of U.S. households have less than $11,700 in savings; 29% of households have less than $1,000.

Personal finance site MagnifyMoney used data from the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to break down how much American households at every income level have saved:

  1. Top 1% in income:
    • Average savings $2.5 million
    • Median savings $1.13 million.
  2. Top 10% in income:
    • Average savings: $961,570
    • Median savings: $156,510
  3. 60 to 79.9% in income:
    • Average savings: $133,770
    • Median savings: $77,020
  4. 40 to 59.9% in income:
    • Average savings: $65,830
    • Median savings: $34,020
  5. 20 to 39.9% in income:
    • Average savings: $29,080
    • Median savings: $0
  6. Bottom 20% in income:
    • Average savings: $8,720
    • Median savings: $0

What a median savings of $0 means is that half of Americans whose incomes are in the bottom 39.9% not only have no savings, they are in debt.

How much have you saved, compared to the average savings of your income group?


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14 responses to “How much Americans have in savings

  1. Kelleigh Nelson

    Which probably means there’ll be a lot of these folks living in govt. housing which is reduced cost, and funded by guess who…the taxpayer!

  2. Many companies had pension plans, provided good salaries, and helped fund local,county,state, & federal expenses. Then the America hating Globalists/Liberals/Bolsheviks decided to outsource tens of millions of our jobs to not only destroy the American middle & working class, but to build up communist China (as planned) via their “Free Trade” (dirty & treasonous) deals

    Trump Is Right on Trade

    • Yep, and pensions went the way of the dinosaurs…

    • Correct all around but for two parts of the otherwise wise Buchanan blog. The “greatest manufacturing base in the world” was not “looted and carted off” by Beijing, it was looted by David Rockefeller and delivered by a series of presidents from Nixon on. By the way, “Shanghai” Nixon was partly a product of Winthrop Rockefeller as the former Vice President was brought back east after telling Californians they would no longer have him to kick around. That was done later by many across the United States after he was considered no longer useful as President.

  3. I attended various seminars my company offered for those that were reaching retirement age. They advised to save as much as we could to ensure a worry free time, to pay the house, pay the car and eliminate all debts. Eight years have passed and it has been a good ride for me and the “girls” that followed the advice.

  4. Most Americans don’t live within their means until it’s too late. I panicked at 30 over retirement when I started reading financial books. For 30 years my friends and clients had newer, nicer cars and homes than I did. Then at 60 I retired and they all wondered how I could do that and they couldn’t when they “looked” so much more prosperous than me.

  5. My father encouraged me and my sisters to start IRAs when we were 16 years old, and he helped fund them for several years after. After ensuring that the money was being well-managed, I let it sit and grow, enjoying the benefits of compound interest (that’s how the 1% does it!). I, in turn, encouraged my son to do the same, and he got bit by the investing bug. He’s KILLING it in the emerging cannabis sector, though his retirement is in the more conservative S&P.

    Retirement seemed so far away for so long! However, I always figured that no matter how I might have to struggle financially in the meantime, I wouldn’t have to once I was old. And now that retirement is within eye-shot, I see just how much gratitude I owe my dad for his foresight.

  6. Neither my husband nor I could save much in our working lives, mainly b/c we were children of WW II parents. They capitalized on all the “free” stuff from the government for their service (deserved) in WW II…but, they thought that we should find our own ways—much or at least some of it on the “government tab, too.” There was not so much the same sorts of funding for us. So, we largely paid for ourselves…then we paid for our own kids (b/c the world had changed by the time we and our kids…2 generations…went through the public school and college systems….) and those 2 generations of paying depleted us. We have very little for our own “retirements” and, in fact, have worked already a decade beyond what our parents worked, and we still do not know when/if we will retire, or just “die in the traces.” Both of our parents amassed and wasted modest real estate fortunes by unwise living/choices. My own family has further depleted us b/c they, who always had almost unlimited resources compared to me and my husband….died having wasted it all…and we have had to bury them, deal with financial aftermath out of our own limited resources….Also, I might add that, when Bill Clinton was POTUS, the “capital gains” taxes were through the roof at some time….and it just happened to be a time when we had to sell a home that we were unable to sell during the high interest/high tax era of first Bush and Bill Clinton…, when, we finally sold it, after having already lost tons of un-rented income on it….every penny of “profit” at the sale went to the GOOBERMENT in “captial gains taxes.” We had NO money to fund our next home and….bought it with minimal down…and then….STILL in a bad economy…could NOT sell it…so, turned it over to a “relocation company” that just bought us out evenly….SO…what I am saying is….I’ve NEVER made a profit on my home investments in 45 years of home-owning/buying selling. I always have started at “0” like a first-time buyer, every time I’ve had to move and buy a family home. It is the particular age group into which I was born: I pay for the the increased investment in the property of the people who came before me, from whom I buy….and for the prosperity of those who come behind me…..the ones who scoop up my below-market-value….. I am, in other words, a “baby-boomer.” I know that many people are going to cry out, “YOU Baby Boomers are crowding the SS system and all pension systems…..” But, in reality….most of us are still working…like us….a decade beyond the expected “retirement” for any and all systems….we are NOT “collecting” anything yet….and, instead, are STILL paying into a system that we will doubtless NEVER benefit from in any great measure in the future.

    • We were born just before ww2 ended, we took early retirement w/401k he was Fed. worker. Most our peers (70’s) one in his 80’s even are still working like in car sales, real estate and medical fields. A friend 80 yrs old just got a job in a gift shop! I used to think it was greed, now I realize some lived beyond their means, and/or had kids they couldn’t afford and paid child care, etc. and didn’t save enough. We chose to be child free and both of us worked and saved best we could as we were blue collar workers. Kids are expensive and only wealthy folks can afford them as women have to work to make ends meet.

  7. I don’t have a lot saved but I’ve been dealing with a low income most of my working life and working part time hours, now in my thirties. A lot of this is due to having to do caregiving from an early age and still continuing to do it, working part-time and I stayed for a while at a job that was underpaying me (and many others) in spite of the fact that I have a college degree. I even worked 2 jobs for a while, made some headway but still low income living in an expensive place and not being able to leave due to my caregiver role. At the same time I’m a personal finance junkie, I write down what I spend, and I don’t spend frivolously. I really am hoping to increase my income in the future and try to make up for lost time. I’m still dealing with a low income at a different job and will probably work 2 jobs again. I just feel there’s so much toxicity and nastiness in the work world in general, and people getting either cheated out of money or getting false promises or even not getting paid, it’s really sad.

  8. I totally relate to CalGirl’s post above. And according to the survey above, while my spouse earns a good income we have little in liquid savings because our debt to income ratio drops us down. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t go crazy on vacations or credit cards, no…we have “relative” expenses that we can’t write off; a dependent parent and equally now, a dependent adult child. We also have a second property that earns no additional income as a rental but to sell it would be a wash or we’d lose because by the time we pay fees, etc. WE hold onto it to kick the can down the road and hope it goes up in value enough and offset selling fees and put some change into our pockets. It is rented, but not for the mortgage value we pay. Unfortunately, many in our families have faced financial hardships and have turned to us for help. It’s strangling our ability to save any liquid assets and we are far behind, for what our income is. Because our adult child has emotional issues, he doesn’t work enough, now has a child and the stress of all of it is suffocating. To mention nothing of the anxiety we have over what his own future will be. Our health is suffering and we are only in our mid 5os. We have put the breaks on all other family members asking for hand outs but between mother in law and a son with a new baby, we are sinking and it’s painful to say the least. We are totally burdened from every side and without all the expenditures related to OTHERS problems, would have had a lot more in liquid asset savings by now. The problem with our son goes even deeper than financial loss, the relationship suffers because of the instability of his moods and ability to be dependent upon himself. Creating more havoc is the mother of his child that has always had everyone else picking up the tab too. Sorry, this sounds so depressing, because it is. I am so tired and worn out worrying about everyone else and nobody worries about us. It’s interesting that when you use the phrase “having anything for retirement/saving for retirement” the younger generation assumes it’s so far away, that you’ll be around forever and that retirement is about ‘going on vacations’ when it’s the furthest thing from reality. Reality is THAT WE WILL BE WORKING INTO OUR 80’s if we even get that far. Reality is also that virtually no company will keep you around beyond 66 if they can help it. I think about how tired and worn out we are now, what’s it going to be like in a few years? If we could move to another country, live simply and without family always being in need, we’d be happier. To me, a peace of mind is more important but the facts are, we need money to survive and even more will be required in the coming years as everything increases in price, not to mention medical or whatever else is needed to even sustain a modest standard of living. …When people earn a decent living and have NO dependents and have managed their finances well enough with the future in mind, then being age 50-60 years old doesn’t feel like such a drag; they have a good amount saved, invested and their golden years are looking really good. In our case, except for a growing 401k and a life insurance policy, each of which we can’t touch and a checking acct that fluctuates but never gets over a certain amount we are flat on our backs. Some would say, well, sell your house – but monthly rents are about the same or more for what we pay our monthly mortgage so it doesn’t make sense to do it. Our cars are over 10 years old and we’ve trimmed the fat but also remember the generation before never had to pay for internet and cell phones, an expense that chunks down a sizable portion out of anyone’s budget. Fuel is higher and so is food and we hardly ever eat out. My point is, the generation before us had considerably less costs and yes, while incomes have increased, the cost of education and other things are sky high. The new age of technology which was suppose to make life easier as well as provide opportunities for second incomes, has cost our generation so much more and the market for what is needed to maintain and keep everything up and running is ridiculously repetitive. Overall life has become more stressful and less satisfying rather than the other way around.
    We feel like the last generation if they planned well, had done better than we have, because all of their children benefited from parents on GI bills, getting decent educations or the opportunities to learn new trades that paid well. BUT THEN…us, their offspring are sandwiched between a growing dependent culture of grown children competing furiously in a saturated world overhyped by demands to have higher degrees (sucking more money out of the wallets of parents) while also helping older parents who don’t have enough to quite make it, in this exceedingly expensive world. By the way, so many people are trying to make incomes online, myself included and while it’s possible, it’s depressingly difficult to earn more than a pittance.
    And the damned politicians talk about people living longer today and working well past the so called normal retirement age…so our SS is bigger and we have more to live on. Yeah right, that’s if we are healthy enough to continue and live long enough to benefit from any of it. I remember when my grandparents spoke glowingly about retirement ‘around the corner when I’m 58 or 62’… not like today, at 69 or 72 and older.
    The only person I know who’s retired early is a friend who worked for the prison system for 19 years , a very stressful job. Good pay, good retirement package. When she hit 52 she retired. She has lived on a fairly decent monthly income without having to get a job and has enjoyed life with her children, her new grandkids and recently married again. Her husband earns a good living though will be retiring himself in a couple of years. Together they are doing well and I’m happy for them. I think they are the exception in a lot of ways and not the rule. They will likely be OK as they get even older and aren’t worried for their security.

    • I would suggest that when you and your spouse reach retirement age, assuming that you had paid off the mortgages on the 2 properties, get a reverse mortgage and live on the proceeds in retirement — and don’t plan on leaving anything to your son. You didn’t say how old he is, but enough is enough. He needs to stop being a dependent. His dependency is costing you a secure retirement.

  9. I and my wife have been blessed, indeed. Not because of any intelligence in the stock market on my side, but by the fact that we are debt free, and have no credit cards. I take that back, we have on for Meijers, a grocery/housegoods chain. We have that only because we get 10 cents off a gallon of gas at their pump, if we use that card. So we use it, and then, my wife goes home, and just as soon as she sees it appear online, she pays if off.
    I had a decent amount in my 401K plus a pension, but I was forced to go on Social Security Disability, and was only working part time for 3 years, while I waited for the case to go through. Now, we have about half of what I had in my retirement savings, but I have it in a more liquid form, having already paid the taxes on it.
    And I learned that for people who like to be what is called preppers, you are much better off paying down debt than stockpiling tons of supplies, in case an end of the world event happens. That is not to say that it is bad to have at least a couple of weeks of food in your home that you could survive on in the case of a major event. It might take that long to get normal supply chains back into operation.
    I have known poverty, and I have also known a decent salary. And I have learned that once you realize that you have a roof over your head, and you don’t have to worry about eating tomorrow, you are ahead of 75% of the world’s population. Even America’s poor, are rich compared to many of the poorest in the 3rd world countries.


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