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More than 1 in 5 Americans saved at least $1,000 during the pandemic, survey finds

CNBC Select breaks down new survey results by MassMutual that found 22% of Americans saved up cash during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The coronavirus pandemic, which has upended millions of Americans' jobs and put the economy in a standstill, has also impacted some people's finances for the better.

According to a new survey from MassMutual, more than 1 in 5 Americans (22%) say they have saved at least $1,000 during the pandemic this summer. The online survey taken in July polled 1,500 Americans of all age groups, including Gen Z (18 to 22 years old), Millennials (23 to 38), Gen X (39 to 53) and Boomers (54+).

The findings tell a bigger story about how consumers' spending, budgeting and financial behaviors have changed since the onset of the pandemic — especially as consumers nationwide stay quarantined in their homes.

"This [22% figure] correlates with the finding that nearly half (47%) are spending less than they did during the same time last year," Adam Goetz, president of MassMutual's Advisors Association, tells CNBC Select.

He notes that while spending on things like DIY home projects and streaming services has increased, a subset of Americans have been able to save up cash that would have otherwise been spent on summer activities like weddings and vacations.

Of those who have managed to save money during the pandemic, the survey found that the biggest contributing factors were no longer traveling (55%) and not spending on nightlife (30%) or personal care (28%).

While consumers continue to navigate their finances during the ongoing pandemic, the survey highlights how the dire situation can help you develop new financial habits.

The importance of saving

If you are spending less this summer and have a surplus of cash, consider using it to improve your financial situation.

"This could be a good opportunity to make headway on any debt and increase your emergency fund to better weather future surprises," Goetz says.

In fact, the MassMutual survey found that 40% of respondents said that they plan to put extra cash toward an emergency fund, while 20% plan to spend it on necessities and 20% plan to pay down debt.

How you use any excess money or windfall or cash is entirely up to your financial situation. Experts like Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche recommend having emergency savings to fall back on, while others like Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck say to pay off your high-interest credit card debt before building an emergency fund.

Regardless which path you choose, a healthy savings will always come in handy at some point in life. When you're ready, use a high-yield savings account to make sure you are earning the best interest rates. Ideally, choose one that requires no minimum deposits or balances and has no monthly fees. Some of our top picks in this category include the Ally Online Savings Account, Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings and Varo Savings Account.

To get started, automate your savings each month by setting up direct deposit. By putting aside only $20 each week you can save $1,000 in one year.

Information about Ally Online Savings Account, Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings, and Varo Savings Account has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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