Not all Americans are saving money. In fact, the U.S. savings rate fell to a 10-year low in September, MarketWatch reports.
Yet many middle-aged Americans are finding ways to have money left over at the end of the month. According to personal finance site NerdWallet, the average middle-aged American between the ages of 45 and 54 has $993 extra per month. That adds up to nearly a potential savings of $12,000 over the course of a year.
NerdWallet determined its potential savings rates using average annual incomes and expenditures by age cohort from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2016 Consumer Expenditure Survey. The savings rate refers to the surplus income leftover after all expenses are accounted for, including discretionary spending on things like travel and entertainment.
Here's how middle-aged Americans stack up against other generations, according to their findings:
It's important to note that NerdWallet looked at the average potential savings rate, not the median, meaning that a few super savers can artificially inflate the number. While their numbers are a helpful benchmark and show that plenty of individuals are making a point to save, it's still an issue that in reality many Americans have shockingly little in their savings accounts.
A 2017 survey by GOBankingRates found that 18 percent of Gen Xers between the ages of 45 and 54 have less than $1,000 put away, while a full 40 percent admit to having nothing saved at all.
Only a quarter of the same age cohort say they have more than $10,000 in savings.
According to this sample, a distressing number of middle-aged Americans have nowhere near the amount the average person will need in retirement.
By age 45, experts recommend that you have the equivalent of four times your annual salary in the bank if you plan to retire at 67 and keep up a similar lifestyle, according to a recent report by financial services company Fidelity. By age 50, that number rises to six times your annual salary.
To reach that amount, Fidelity recommends putting away 15 percent of your income per year starting at age 25 and investing more than 50 percent of your savings over your lifetime.
Although it's a lot, it's not an impossible goal. "The good news is that that 15 percent also includes any employer match," Ken Hevert, senior vice president of retirement at Fidelity, tells CNBC Make It. That means if you're eligible for a 5 percent match on your 401(k) plan and you contribute 5 percent of your salary to the account, you're already putting away 10 percent.
If you're interested in jump-starting your savings, here's a few sources of inspiration to get you started:
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