How much money Americans have in their savings accounts—nearly half have less than $500 (2024)

Nearly half of Americans have $500 or less in their savings accounts, an amount that leaves them vulnerable to unexpected expenses, according to a GOBankingRates survey of 1,063 U.S. adults conducted in November 2023.

About 29% of respondents have between $501 and $5,000 in their savings accounts, while the remaining 21% of Americans have $5,001 or more.

Few hold much cash in their checking accounts as well. Of those surveyed, 60% report having $500 or less in their checking accounts, while only about 12% have $2,001 or more.

The lack of cash in either savings or checking accounts suggests that many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. This leaves them vulnerable to unexpected expenses, underscoring the importance of having an emergency fund, if they're able to build one.

Why an emergency fund is important

Financial planners commonly recommend keeping a reserve of cash, known as an emergency fund, on hand to cover unexpected expenses. Yet many Americans don't seem to have one.

There are many reasons for this. In some cases, Americans may struggle to make ends meet during times of high inflation. But in others, it may be a matter of affluent professionals who aren't in the habit of saving money.

"The inability of Americans to withstand an emergency costing $500 or even $1,000 can be financially detrimental, with a domino effect on their life," says Alex Lozano, a certified financial planner and founder of Lozano Group Wealth Management.

That's because people often rely on high-interest credit cards to cover unexpected expenses, he says.

"Accumulating debt can lead to a cycle of repayment and interest charges that can be difficult to escape," says Christopher Lazzaro, chartered financial consultant and founder of Plan For It Financial. "An emergency fund helps you avoid falling into this debt trap."

Lazzaro recommends aiming to build an emergency fund that's worth three to six months of your expenses, although "everyone's situation is going to be different." Someone who is single or with a non-working spouse might want to save up 12 months worth of expenses, he says.

To get started, you'll need to find room in your budget for monthly emergency savings contributions, which can be easier said than done.

If you aren't able to cut back on your day-to-day expenses, it may make sense for you to temporarily reduce any contributions to retirement accounts. "Before people begin to invest for their future, they should create an emergency account," says Lozano.

It's OK to start small, too, even if that's putting away only $20 per month. What's important is that you get in the habit of making regular contributions, which can be increased later when you have more income.

Stash your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account

Once you've carved out some of your monthly income to build up an emergency fund, it can be smart to stash it in a high-yield savings account where it will collect interest and can be withdrawn quickly in case of an emergency. Currently, you can find high-yield savings accounts with annual percentage yields close to 4.5%, compared with an average of 0.6% for all savings accounts, per Bankrate.

And yet, only 9.8% of survey respondents say they have a high-yield savings account, GOBankingRates found.

One reason people don't switch over, despite the better rates, is inertia, since many already have a traditional savings account with the bank they've been with for years.

But the higher interest rates might be worth the switch. For a $500 balance in a high-yield account offering 4.5%, that works out to $22.50 in interest after one year, compared with just $3 with a traditional savings account.

While that might not seem like a lot of money at first, it will continue to grow over time, especially if you build up your emergency fund to cover many months worth of expenses.

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How much money Americans have in their savings accounts—nearly half have less than $500 (1)

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How much money Americans have in their savings accounts—nearly half have less than $500 (2024)

FAQs

How much money Americans have in their savings accounts—nearly half have less than $500? ›

Nearly Half of Americans Don't Have $500 in Savings

What percentage of Americans have less than $500 in savings? ›

A recent GOBankingRates study of 1,063 U.S. adults found that nearly half of those surveyed have less than $500 in savings, with 36% having $100 or less in savings. While inflation has steadily improved since the June 2022 peak of 9.1%, borrowing rates and consumer prices are still much too high and real wages too low.

How many Americans have at least $1000 in savings? ›

A stunning new Bankrate survey of 1,030 individuals finds that more than half of American adults (56%) lack sufficient savings to shoulder an unexpected $1,000 expense.

What percentage of Americans have money in a savings account? ›

The majority of U.S. households — 98.6 percent — have a transaction account, such as a savings account.

Do 40% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings? ›

Fewer than half of Americans, 44%, say they can afford to pay a $1,000 emergency expense from their savings, according to Bankrate's survey of more than 1,000 respondents conducted in December. That is up from 43% in 2023, yet level when compared to 2022.

Do 45% of Americans have less that $1000 saved for a? ›

Having enough set aside for an unexpected car repair is a good place to start your emergency fund, but just 45% of Americans would be able to cover a $1,000 emergency expense without turning to a credit card or loan, according to the survey.

How many Americans have at least $100000 in savings? ›

Most American households have at least $1,000 in checking or savings accounts. But only about 12% have more than $100,000 in checking and savings.

How many people have at least $1000 dollars? ›

A new GOBankingRates survey found that most Americans have $1,000 or less in personal savings in 2023; a third have $500 or less saved, while 8.5% have between $501 and $1,000. Meanwhile a whopping 11.4% said they have no savings, the survey found.

How much money does average American have in bank? ›

The average American has $65,100 in savings — excluding retirement assets — according to Northwestern Mutual's 2023 Planning & Progress Study. That's a 5% increase over the $62,000 reported in 2022.

How much do most 60 year olds have saved for retirement? ›

So, the average savings is the number at which half of all money saved is above this amount and half of all money saved is below it. According to the Federal Reserve, households between the ages of 55 and 64 have the following median assets: Retirement Accounts – $185,000. Other Financial Assets – $67,700.

What percent of Americans have $0 saved? ›

A new GOBankingRates survey of more than 1,000 adults found that 28% of people have nothing saved for the future, 39% aren't contributing to a retirement fund and another 30% don't think they'll ever be able to retire.

How many people have $100 thousand in savings? ›

More than one in 10 Americans do not have any savings

Almost one in ten men have $100,000 or more in savings, but the figure falls by four percentage points for women (9% men vs. 5% women).

How many people have $20,000 in savings? ›

Other answers revealed that 15 percent had between $1,000 to $5,000, 10 percent with savings of $5,000 to $10,000, 13 percent boasted $10,000 to $20,000 of cash in their bank accounts while 20 percent had more than $20,000.

What percent of Americans don't have 1000 in savings? ›

As of December 2023, more than half of Americans wouldn't pay for a sudden $1,000 bill from their emergency savings. The majority (56 percent) of U.S. adults wouldn't pay for an emergency expense of $1,000 or more, such as an emergency room visit or unexpected car repair, from their savings account.

How many people have less than $500 in savings? ›

According to the survey, 49% of Americans have $500 or less in their savings account, with 36% reporting they have less than $100 saved up.

What is the percentage of people have less than $1000 in their savings account? ›

Personal Savings in the U.S.

According to a rolling representative online survey among U.S. adults by YouGov, 27 percent of Americans had some savings below $1,000 as of May 2023, while 12 percent said they had no savings at all.

Do 30% of Americans have no savings? ›

If you've got nothing saved for retirement, you're not alone. Nearly 30% of Americans have $0 saved for retirement, per recent data from personal finance website GOBankingRates. Another 33% have less than $50,000 saved.

How much money does the average American have in savings? ›

In terms of savings accounts specifically, you'll likely find different estimates from different sources. The average American has $65,100 in savings — excluding retirement assets — according to Northwestern Mutual's 2023 Planning & Progress Study. That's a 5% increase over the $62,000 reported in 2022.

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