Average Savings by Age: How Does Your Balance Measure Up?
Comparing your account balance to others may help you determine your savings goals.
Let’s face it – life gets expensive.
Many expenses in life are planned – buying a new car or adopting a new furry family member for example. But there are also those expenses that are unexpected. You know the ones… they always occur at just the wrong time.
In both cases, having savings on hand may make it easier to manage those extra purchases in our lives.
When it comes to figuring out how much to keep in your savings account, only you are able to decide what is best for you, but chances are your values, life stage, and money goals influence the savings choices you make. And sometimes it helps to know how your savings stack up against others, just as a benchmark.
Below we’ll discuss some recent statistics and tips for deciding how much you should keep in savings based on your personal situation.
Comparing your savings to others may help you determine if your savings are on track.
Average savings balances tend to be higher as you get older, but it’s important to personalize your savings strategy to your unique needs and goals.
It may be helpful to split your savings into two general categories, emergency savings and savings for other purposes.
How Much Are Your Peers Saving?
When it comes to savings, more always seems better, right? But you probably have a lot of options on how to put your money to work, and that could leave you wondering how much to set aside in an actual savings account.
The chart below shows the average savings balance per household based on the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.1
Average Money in Bank Account by Age*
*The numbers in these charts come from transaction accounts. Transaction accounts include checking, savings, money market accounts, pre-paid debit cards, and other accounts where funds are easily accessible. They don’t include retirement savings accounts.
Comparing your accessible (or liquid) savings tends to be more difficult than comparing your retirement savings to others your age. Retirement savings are often easier to calculate because most people retire at approximately the same age.
Accessible savings tend to be more individualized, which is why the chart above is a useful guide for comparison, but it’s not meant as a rule.
For example, a 27-year-old could be a few years into their career, paying off student loans, and living in an apartment. Or they could be married, raising young children, and carrying a home mortgage. Same age, different life stage, lifestyle, and expenses.
Bottom line, the best savings strategy is one built around your needs and goals, not your birth date.
Determining Your Savings Goals
When it comes to creating your plan, it’s helpful to think about savings in two main buckets: emergency savings and savings for planned purchases. It may be useful to set up multiple saving accounts to make tracking progress toward your goals easier.
Also, setting up separate accounts may help create a “hands off” mentality, and that discipline could allow your funds to grow faster (and uninterrupted).
One of the basics of money management is creating an emergency fund—putting away 3-6 months of living expenses may help to offset a period of unemployment or job transition. You may not have that amount saved today, but working toward that goal may help you have more peace of mind when the economy gets rocky.
To figure out the amount you need in your emergency fund, follow these two easy steps:
Define your regular monthly spending, excluding expenses you’d cut out during an emergency
Multiply that amount by the number of months you’d want the fund to last.
Note: this is also a useful exercise that may help you spot any areas where you may be able reevaluate your spending habits.
If you’re not sure what your monthly spending looks like, take a month or two to track your expenses before setting your emergency savings goal.
When it comes to how many months of savings to have on hand, is the 3–6 month recommendation right for you? Well, that depends. If you’re the sole earner in your household and have kids, you may want your emergency savings to be on the higher end. A couple with two incomes and no children may be comfortable with less in their emergency savings.
Other Savings Goals
After you reach your emergency saving goal, you’re able to turn your attention to saving for other priorities, whether that’s having money on hand for a dream European vacation or splurging on new furniture.
Once you figure out what these goals are and your savings timelines, you may want to create some structure and milestones for yourself.
How to Save Your Way
There’s really no wrong way to save money, but some methods may work better for you than others.
For example, you may find that setting up separate accounts for each goal, such as a vacation fund, a house fund, a wedding fund, etc., makes it easier for you to track growth over time.
You could also try setting up a direct deposit into a savings account. This way, saving becomes like paying any other monthly bill — except you’re paying yourself!
Where you choose to keep your savings is also important. Some common options include:
High-Yield Savings Accounts: These savings accounts help grow your money via compound interest. As of May 2023, the average savings account earned about 0.40% APY.2 However, a high-yield account could earn you 4.00% APY or more, depending on the institution.3 High-yield savings accounts are often a good choice for storing savings that you could need quick access to.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs): CDs often help your savings grow more over time because they typically offer higher rates in exchange for making your savings less liquid for a set period. A CD’s term may last anywhere from a few months to several years, and if you have to withdraw your funds before the term ends, you may have to pay a penalty.4 CDs are typically the most useful for a medium or long-term savings goal.
Investments are another way to save and may potentially earn you the greatest return. The key word here is “potentially.” Since markets go up and down, investments carry risk. You could end up with less money than you started with. Talk to a financial advisor if you’re considering investing your savings. They could help you determine your risk tolerance and recommend a strategy based on your goals.
Each of these options could play a role in your savings strategy, depending on your goals. If you aren’t sure which option is best for you, consult a financial advisor.
Saving money is a personal, lifelong journey. While it may be useful to compare your current savings balance to others, remember that everyone’s financial situation is unique.
When it comes to living a richer life, having a handle on your savings could make a major difference. Having money in the bank could help you have less stress in your life. With funds on hand, you may be able to handle the not-so-fun surprises and spring for the exciting purchases that make your life better.