Average savings by age
One way to gauge the health of your personal savings is to look at the average American’s savings by age according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.
Understanding where most people are in their preparation for retirement can help you form your own benchmarks. But remember, your journey is your own, so in addition to numbers you should pay attention to the expert tips for each age group that can help you fine-tune your savings goals and cover daily living necessities at the same time.
Americans under the age of 35 have saved an average of $30,170 for retirement, despite the fact most 20-somethings are still recovering from student loans and establishing their careers.
As busy and occasionally unstable as this decade of life can be, it’s also the perfect time to put some financial structures in place:
- Establish an emergency fund in addition to your retirement account.
- Automate transfers from your checking account into your savings/retirement account.
- Talk to your employer about retirement account matching programs and explore other opportunities for tax-deferred investments
Once you’re into your late 30s and early 40s, you’re typically more established in life and working in a higher-paying position. That’s likely why the average retirement savings for this age group is an impressive $131,950.
But this stage of life also comes with some costly changes. You may get married, have children and/or buy a home. You can offset expenses by being more strategic about overall spending; curbing how often you eat out, for example, or sending your kids to dance class at the rec center instead of a swanky local ballet studio.
Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 have saved an average of $254,720. This nest egg has nearly doubled in the last ten years, which is something to be proud of. But as you tip-toe toward retirement and see your kids gain independence, it’s time to think about ways you can further set yourself up financially.
Look at your bills and see what’s scheduled to be paid off soon. Almost done forking over college tuition? Are your cars almost paid off? Think about how your financial obligations are evolving and what that could mean for you in terms of finding new investment opportunities and revisiting your savings goals.
This time of life is perfect for reaching out to a financial advisor who can help you formulate a well thought-out pre-retirement plan.
Between the ages of 55 and 64, Americans have an average of $408,420 socked away from retirement. Given that the average retirement age in the U.S. is 64, depending on factors such as social security income and actual bank account balance, this is when you’ll do your final preparations for post-career living.
You may decide to set up a few sources of retirement income, such as rental properties. You may consult an investment specialist to figure out how to make your retirement savings work for you. This is a time for planning, and for adjusting the plans you already have in place if they’re not achieving the results you hoped they would.
After the age of 65, by which point the average American has retired, it’s unlikely your nest egg will continue to grow. By this point, there’s no more annual salary bolstering your checking account and social security benefits won’t make anyone a millionaire. This is why average retirement savings for this age group stand at $426,070, less than $18,000 more than you had a decade or so before.
You’re entering your “spend era,” where a lot more money is going out than is coming in. Watching your account balance slowly deplete can be disheartening, which is why it helps to have other investments working in your favor and that emergency savings account waiting in the wings too, just in case.
But now you need to think beyond your immediate needs and consider estate planning. From your car to your house to your collection of antique tea pots, everything you own has to go somewhere after you pass. Thorough and thoughtful estate planning can make it easier for your family to enjoy certain assets tax-free and distribute other items exactly as you intended.
Why should I save money?
In the short term, you need to save money so that you have an emergency fund for things like unexpected medical expenses and house or car repairs.
In the long term, you should have retirement savings so that you can stop working full time and still have enough of a nest egg to pay for day-to-day life — and hopefully even some fun extras.
How much money should I have in savings?
How much does the average person have in savings and how much should you have in your own account?
As we’ve covered above, what the average American saves varies considerably by age but also their situation.
Experts recommend having enough in your savings to pay for about three months of expenses without relying on additional income. That means the exact amount you should have in a transaction account depends on your bills and other financial obligations. To determine your specific savings goal you can use a savings calculator.
How to maximize your savings at any age
One of the best ways to maximize your savings is to start early.
Retirement seems a long way off when you’re 25, but time flies and you can never get back the years you spent your money instead of diverting it into savings.
You can also:
- Set a goal for what you want to have in savings when you retire.
- Add milestones so you know if you’re on track along the way.
- Look for ways to put pre-tax income into savings.
Where should I keep my savings?
Once you start acquiring savings, you need somewhere to put that money.
Thankfully, there are different types of savings accounts to choose from.
Regular savings accounts: A typical savings account allows for unlimited transactions and easy access to funds, but the trade-off is low APY and therefore low return on your money.
High-yield savings accounts: A high-yield account comes with above-average interest, making your money work for you.
Certificates of deposit (CDs): A certificate of deposit usually comes with a pretty good interest rate, but your funds will be locked up for a predetermined amount of time — often 1, 3 or 5 years.
Individual retirement accounts (IRAs): There are tax advantages to putting some of your income into an IRA, so you can maximize retirement planning and increase financial security.
Employer retirement plans: Using a 401k or 403(b) means you’re stacking up tax-deductible and/or tax-free savings, plus you may be eligible for ‘employer match’ to boost savings even further.
Are Americans saving more or less than we used to?
Thanks to slow wage growth and growing inflation, Americans are saving far less than they used to.
As for June 2022, the average personal savings rate had dipped to a 15-year low of 2.7%. A 2022 survey found that 24% of Americans don’t have any money saved for emergencies, meaning they have to rely on credit cards or government assistance as a safety net.
This said, there is an overall trend of people spending below their means to save money. Some 56% of Americans with financial regret say they wish they had saved more and 57% of those proud of their financial success cite smart savings as one of their top triumphs.