Money

Here's how much money Americans have saved

Father teaching daughter about money.
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Father teaching daughter about money.

A new study finds the median American household has $4,830 in a savings account. That's enough to cover minor emergencies and potentially even a few months of living expenses.

Overall, between bank accounts and retirement savings, the median American household currently holds about $11,700, according to MagnifyMoney. Yet almost 30 percent of households have less than $1,000 saved. Among households that report having at least some money set aside, the median savings level is higher, just under $73,000.

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.

Retirement is by far the most popular type of savings. Over 80 percent of Americans' savings is in a 401(k) or individual retirement account, MagnifyMoney found.

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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