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What Is the Average American’s Savings Account Balance?

Many Americans are struggling to build savings. Here’s how you can beat the statistics.

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Building a cash reserve is essential, according to Marguerita Cheng, a certified financial planner. “Even starting with $25 or $50 each check will build the savings habit needed to carry you through life,” she said.

A healthy savings balance can cover your expenses in an emergency and help you reach your financial goals faster. Unfortunately, the US personal savings rate (the percentage of personal income saved) settled at 3.8% in January, nearly half of the decades-long 8% average. But you can buck this trend and build your savings habits with a little intention and the proper tools.

What is the average American’s savings balance?

The median balance in American transaction accounts is $8,000, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2023 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). Transaction accounts include checking, savings and money market accounts and prepaid debit cards. The average value Americans hold in transaction accounts is $62,410. However, the median value -- the midpoint in the data set -- is a better representation of what the average person has in the bank because a small number of large account balances push average values higher.

A lack of savings can cause significant stress. In a 2022 survey on emergency savings (PDF) by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 68% of respondents with no emergency savings said that finances control their lives, compared with 14% of respondents who said they have at least one month of income in savings.

Savings statistics at a glance

The statistics on US savings show that many Americans continue to struggle. According to research from CNET sister site Bankrate:

  • Almost a quarter (22%) of households reported having no emergency savings at all. 
  • Only 44% of Americans have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency expense.
  • Nearly half (57%) of Americans are uncomfortable with how much they have in emergency savings.

Additionally, the St. Louis Federal Reserve reports that the US personal savings rate -- the percentage of disposable income a person is able to save -- has steadily declined from 5.3% in May 2023 to 3.8% as of January 2024. In other words, Americans are saving less of their income.

That said, savings habits in the US are showing a glimmer of hope:

  • A March 2023 Forbes Advisor survey found that 48% of participants had opened a high-yield savings account, with many doing so expressly to benefit from higher interest rates.
  • Self-reported financial well-being, while down 5% from the year before, is still among the highest rates recorded at 73%, according to the latest report on economic well-being by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Half (50%) of Americans are building savings to deal with economic uncertainty, according to the 2023 planning and progress study conducted by Northwestern Mutual.

Average savings by demographic categories

How much you’re able to save can be affected by many factors, such as your income, education level and age. The Fed’s SCF report highlights saving outcomes according to several demographic categories. Here are several key ones to help you gain better insight into how your ability to save compares to others.

Average savings by age

Older Americans -- those ages 65 to 74 -- have the most stored in their accounts -- understandably so, as they’ve had more time to accumulate savings. The table below shows the median value held in accounts by age.

Average savings by income

Also unsurprisingly, higher incomes correlate to larger transaction account balances.

Average savings by race/ethnicity

The SCF report also separates savings totals by race or heritage. Asian, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander are included in the “other” racial category.

Average savings by education level

We can also look at the average savings balance level according to a person’s level of education. College degree holders report more than three times the amount of savings than the next closest category, those with “some college.” This may be because, among other things, education level impacts income level, which the SCF has shown has a direct impact on the average savings balance.

How much should you save? 

The answer to this question largely depends on your circumstances. Experts routinely recommend socking away three to six months’ worth of expenses for emergencies. However, that may not be enough for your savings goals. 

For example, in addition to building an emergency fund, you may plan to join friends for a weekend in the Bahamas in six months. Or you may have an eye on longer-term savings goals such as retirement.

Before you get bogged down with amounts, know that forming a savings habit is the key to your success. “I tell people the most important thing is to start the habit, not necessarily focusing on the amount,” Cheng said. “Do what feels right. Over time, as your income increases, you can save more.”

That said, to determine your target savings amount, identify your most immediate savings goal. Use this to decide how much you should -- and can -- save from each pay period. Then, use the momentum from accomplishing this goal as motivation to continue growing your savings.

5 easy ways to build a savings habit

Saving may not be your superpower (yet), but it’s a skill you can hone with time and practice. These five tips will help lay the foundation you need to blossom into a sophisticated saver. 

  • Create a monthly budget. A budget allows you to account for all income and expenses accurately. With a clearer picture of your obligations, you can make better decisions on how to best allocate your money. Budgeting apps such as Rocket Money and YNAB help you set up budgets that can connect to your bank accounts and track your income and expenses.
  • Organize your savings goals. Sub-accounts are a great tool for visually tracking your savings goals. You can find these at institutions including  Alliant Credit Union and Ally Bank.
  • Generate additional income. Earning additional income will speed up your savings. CNET reviewed some great side hustles to help you generate more income. 
  • Seek financial advice through your bank. Many banks and credit unions offer consultations with financial professionals to help you find the best savings strategy. Golden 1 Credit Union, for example, provides free instructor-led webcasts. Each session is 30 minutes and covers such topics as building a better budget and saving over the long term.
  • Automate your savings. Whether you choose to save weekly or monthly, automatic transfers can help you maintain a regular savings habit. Your employer can initiate these through your paycheck direct deposit or at the account level. Your bank can help you establish regular transfers from a checking to a savings account. You can also transfer money to an external account to keep your savings out of sight and out of mind until you need it.

Deposit accounts to help you save

While building your emergency savings, you’ll want an account that’s liquid and easily accessible, yet separate from the accounts you use to manage everyday living expenses. Additionally, your savings should be kept in a federally insured financial institution that’s covered by either the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (for banks) or the National Credit Union Administration (for credit unions). This protects your money up to $250,000 per person, per institution if the bank fails.

Consider these accounts for storing your savings:

High-yield savings account

A high-yield savings account is an interest-earning savings account often offered by online banks or credit unions or online-only arms of larger banks. Without the overhead costs of brick-and-mortar branches, these banks can pass savings on to you in the form of higher annual percentage yields, or APYs. The best APYs available on high-yield savings accounts continue to top 5%.

High-yield savings account APYs are variable and can change based on market conditions. However, whatever the rate environment, keeping your savings in an account that earns competitive interest only helps your bottom line.

Traditional certificate of deposit

A certificate of deposit, or CD, is a deposit account that offers a fixed rate for a specific time or term. In exchange for fixed growth, you agree not to withdraw your money before the term ends. The main benefit of a CD is that your money grows over time at a fixed APY. Competitive one-year CDs, for example, can earn as much as 5.40% APY, which is significantly higher than the national average savings account rate of 0.46%

While a CD can be a great place to store extra savings, it shouldn’t serve as the primary savings option for your emergency fund. That’s because if you need to withdraw your funds before the CD term ends, you’ll pay a penalty (typically equal to a portion of the interest earned).

No-penalty CD

A no-penalty CD is a specialty CD that offers a fixed rate for a specific term like traditional CDs. However, this deposit account doesn’t impose an early withdrawal penalty if you need to access your money before the term ends. These CDs are generally less widely available, and the APYs are lower. However, the additional flexibility can be worth a slight drop in rates.

Money market account 

A money market account, or MMA, is similar to a high-yield savings account. It offers a higher interest rate than your traditional savings account but has some added flexibility, such as the option to use a debit card or write checks. MMAs typically have competitive APYs, but they’re slightly lower than high-yield savings accounts. They also tend to have higher minimum deposit requirements.

The bottom line

US savings trend statistics can be unsettling. However, the issues plaguing many Americans don’t have to be part of your story. Taking advantage of high rates on deposit accounts, along with building the consistent and intentional habit of setting aside a small amount of money each pay period, will add up over time. 


Remember, saving money isn’t just for problems that pop up when you least expect them. You can also establish a savings habit to help you afford things that make life more enjoyable. Developing a strategy to build your savings includes selecting the best account, or combination of accounts, to store your money. And staying on top of the most competitive accounts banks offer will make your savings journey easier, adding to your bottom line and overall quality of life.

Toni Husbands is a staff writer with CNET Money who enjoys exploring topics that promote financial wellness. She began writing about personal finance to document her experience paying off $107,000 of debt, which is detailed in her book, The Great Debt Dump. Previously, she contributed as a freelance writer for websites, including, Centsai and Wisebread. She was also a regular contributor to Business AM TV, and her work has been featured on Yahoo News. Being a part-time real estate investor and amateur gardener also brings her joy.
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