Saving is not a competition, and everyone’s needs are going to be different. Still, using the relative progress of your peers in the same age group can be one way to gauge whether you’re putting away enough money. After all, if you’re saving significantly less than most of the rest of the people at a similar point in their lives, it’s definitely worth at least reconsidering the rate at which you’re saving.
That’s why the different responses by age group in a recent survey from GOBankingRates are especially interesting. The survey polled over 5,000 Americans about their saving habits and how much they had socked away in a savings account. The results are illuminating and shine a light on the average savings by age across America.
Percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds with the following amounts saved:
Less than $1,000: 28%
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that three out of four young adults have less than $5,000 put away and well over half have less than $1,000. A separate GOBankingRates survey also found that 18- to 24-year-olds are the most financially unprepared age group.
Percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with the following amounts saved:
Less than $1,000: 24%
The next age bracket actually has a larger percentage of people who have no savings and less than $1,000 saved, a result that might be somewhat surprising considering that it stretches into people’s early 30s and includes many young professionals. Although the $50,000 or more segment is much larger, the $1,000 to $4,999 group has dropped considerably from the 18 to 24 age group.
Percentage of 35- to 44-year-olds with the following amounts saved:
Less than $1,000: 24%
If conventional wisdom would say that the older people get, the more likely they are to have money saved, the results of this survey would seem to indicate that the opposite is true as the percentage of people with no savings grows from just 26 percent for the 18 to 24 age group to 37 percent for people aged 35 to 44.
However, with the percentage of people with over $50,000 saved rising to 10 percent, it would appear that there’s a minority of earners who are doing pretty well for themselves.
Percentage of 45- to 54-year-olds with the following amounts saved:
Less than $1,000: 28%
The 45 to 54 age group is the first one where the percentage of people with no savings actually decreases from the age group that precedes it. But at 34 percent, there’s still more than one in three respondents who have no savings and another one in four who have under $1,000 to their name.
Percentage of 55- to 64-year-olds with the following amounts saved:
Less than $1,000: 26%
Even with retirement looming in under a decade, 61 percent of those in the 55-64 age bracket have $1,000 or less in savings.
“It’s disheartening to see such a significant percentage of people who are close to retirement age with so little saved,” says Cameron Huddleston, personal finance expert and GOBankingRates’ Life + Money columnist. “Plenty of baby boomers will need to make saving a priority if they want to have enough for a comfortable retirement and for an ample emergency fund so they don’t have to raid retirement savings for unexpected costs.”
It’s interesting to note that the middle figures really thin out for the people in the final decade of their working lives prior to retirement. The 55 to 64 age group had just 8 percent of respondents with $5,000 to $20,000 in savings, the lowest level of any age group. Meanwhile, the people with no savings and more than $50,000 both increased from the 45 to 54 age group, continuing to paint a picture of two Americas, with one larger group struggling to save anything while another smaller one builds their wealth.
Ages 65 and up
Percentage of 65-year-olds and older with the following amounts saved:
Less than $1,000: 24%
Although the senior citizens in this poll were tied with the youngest age group for having the smallest portion respond that they had nothing in savings, it’s hard not to see it as a little disturbing that over one in four of those people over the age of 65 in this poll had nothing put away. In total, half the respondents aged 65 and up had $1,000 or less in savings.
What Are Americans Saving For?
For those aged 18 to 24, a whopping 47 percent responded that they were saving for college, a category that falls to 13 percent for the 25 to 34 group and is under 10 percent for everyone else. For that 25 to 34 age group, it’s a home that they’re putting money away for with 43 percent answering that was their primary saving goal, a trend that continues into the 35 to 44 group with 36 percent answering that they were saving for a home.
For the other three age groups, the most common answer was retirement, with 38 percent of those from 45 to 54, 51 percent of those aged 55 to 64 and 49 percent of those 65 and up saying that’s what they were saving for. But don’t worry, not everyone is focused solely on these important pursuits: The three age groups from 25 to 54 all had about one in four people answer that they were saving for a vacation.
What's Stopping Them From Saving More?
The responses to why people weren’t saving more money each month paint a clear picture of why more people aren’t saving: People just aren’t making enough money to be able to put anything away.
Every age group but the 18 to 24 bracket had “I’m living paycheck to paycheck” come back as their most common response, and the 18 to 24 group had “I have a low salary” as the most common response. That included 28 percent of those aged 25 to 34, 33 percent of those aged 35 to 44, 38 percent of those 45 to 54, 38 percent of those 55 to 64 and 32 percent of those over the age of 65.
Is Your Savings Low? You're Not Alone
The good news is that if you haven’t been able to save money, you’re not alone — regardless of your age.
In every age group participating in the poll, at least 50 percent of respondents had less than $1,000 saved, and over a third of those from 25 to 64 had nothing saved at all. Combine that with the responses about why people don’t save more and the survey would appear to point toward a large section of American society that’s struggling to keep up with basic expenses and simply cannot find space in their budget to save money.
That said, there also appears to be a contingent of people having no trouble saving at all. In every age group but one, the percentage of people answering that they had $50,000 or more in savings was larger than the percentage answering anything from $5,000 to $49,999.
Click through to read more about life hacks that will help you save thousands.
More on Saving Money
- The Best Places to Live in America to Save Money
- Saving for Retirement Is Not a Priority for 40% of Americans
- $1M Retirement Savings Now a Reality for More Americans Than Ever
- Watch: Living in These 10 States Can Make It Easier to Saving $1M for Retirement
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Methodology: This GOBankingRates survey asked 5,002 adults the following six questions: 1) How much money do you have saved in your savings account? 2) What are you primarily saving for? 3) What obstacle(s) are keeping you from saving more money each month? 4) Of the following, which (or who) has proven most helpful for managing your savings? 5) How often do you deposit money in your savings? 6) What would you do or sacrifice if it meant achieving your savings goals? For question No. 2, respondents could choose more than one response. Percentages were rounded to the nearest whole number.
Responses were collected through a Survata survey from August 27, 2018 to September 4, 2018, and are representative of the U.S. online population.