Life

This is the No. 1 reason Americans save money — and it's not for college, retirement or to buy a home 

Helen H. Richardson | Getty Images

When it comes to saving money, seeing the world is the No. 1 priority for Americans, according to a new survey.

SunTrust Banks recently revealed that 45 percent of Americans save their money for travel, surpassing saving money for emergency savings, retirement, buying a house and buying a car/truck/motorcycle.

The quarterly National Financial Confidence Index surveyed 2,500 adult Americans representing different ages, incomes and geographic regions. Even when the survey results are broken down by generation, traveling is still the No. 1 reason to set money aside, especially for millennials (at 47 percent.

After travel, 37 percent of Americans put money toward emergency savings; 30 percent for retirement; 21 percent save money to buy a house; and 20 percent save money to buy a car, truck and/or motorcycle.

About one-third of those surveyed reported regularly feeling stressed about money or finances.

"Those who report feeling less stress about money or finances have a higher financial confidence," says Keith Lerner, SunTrust managing director and chief market strategist. According to the survey, one in five Americans who score highest on financial confidence are more likely to be happier, give to charity and are more satisfied with their freedom to make life choices, like travel.

Indeed, research shows travel can bring happiness. Thomas Gilovich, Irene Blecker Rosenfeld Professor of Psychology at Cornell University, has done countless research on how people get more enjoyment and satisfaction from experiential purchases, like travel, over material purchases. This is especially true for millennials, who would rather travel for experiences than buy a home.

In another report by Expedia, 57 percent of Americans are currently saving money for travel and, even higher, 65 percent of millennials are saving money for travel. A whopping 74 percent of Americans prioritize experiences over products or things.

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