MagnifyMoney estimates median household balances in various types of banking and retirement savings accounts by using data from the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. They calculate the median because it gives a more accurate estimate of what most Americans have saved; the average can be skewed by high-earners and older savers. Their results indicate that half of all U.S. households have more than $4,830 while half have less.
Among households that report having at least some money set aside, the median savings level is higher, just under $73,000.
Other surveys and studies have found similar results. Using data from the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances, SmartAsset found earlier this year the median American household had about $5,200 in savings. And according to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey, about 12 percent of respondents had between $1,000 to $4,999 in a savings account, while more than half of Americans (57 percent) had less than $1,000.
Americans may still owe more in debt than they save. The Northwestern Mutual's 2018 Planning & Progress Study recently found Americans now have an average of $38,000 in personal debt, excluding home mortgages. That's up $1,000 from a year ago.
Meanwhile "fewer people said they carry 'no debt' this year compared to 2017 (23 percent vs. 27 percent)," according to the study.
"People's purse-strings are clearly caught in a tug of war between enjoying the present and saving for the future," says Emily Holbrook, director of planning for Northwestern Mutual.
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