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.
Why a 33-year-old turned to a risky loan when his baby's premature birth left him broke
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!