- The average American household has $175,510 worth of savings in bank accounts and retirement savings accounts as of June 2018.
- The median American household currently holds about $11,700 across these same types of accounts.
- The top 1% of households (as measured by income) have an average of $2,495,930 in these various saving accounts. The bottom 20% have an average of $8,720.
- Roughly 83% of savings are in located in retirement accounts like IRAs and workplace-sponsored retirement savings plans like 401(k)s.
- Millennials, who have just started their savings journey, have currently socked away an average of $24,820. Gen Xers have $125,560 in retirement savings. Baby boomers and those born before 1946 have an average of $274,910.
- 29% of households have less than $1,000 in savings.
You often read or hear stories about how Americans aren’t saving enough for college, for retirement, for a rainy day — for anything, really. But how much do they currently have in their bank, credit union or online brokerage?
MagnifyMoney used data from the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to estimate the average and median household balances in various types of banking and retirement savings accounts. 2016 household data from the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances was adjusted to 2018 levels by using June, 2018 market values and fund flows.
Of course, these are very broad numbers, and very few of the 126 million U.S. households will be average. As of 2016, about 78% of households had at least one of the following: a savings account, a retirement savings account, a money market deposit account or certificates of deposit.
Average account balances
As of June 2018, among all households (including those with no account):
- The average American household savings account balance is $16,420
- The average American household has $5,170 in certificates of deposits (CDs)
- The average American household has $9,370 in money market deposit accounts
- The average American household has $9,750 in checking accounts
- The average American household has $144,560 in one or more retirement savings accounts, including individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s and other types of retirement accounts
Note that all households won’t necessarily own each type of savings account. For example, only about 7% of households currently have savings in some type of CD, meaning that the 93% without one will necessarily drive down the average.
Here are the average balances among savers, regardless of the kinds of savings vehicles they use. The averages below only exclude the 22% of households without any of these savings accounts. Households that have some savings vehicles but not necessarily all of the savings vehicles below were factored into each average.
Across all “saver” households:
- The average savings account balance is $22,469
- The average money market deposit account balance is $12,823
- The average amount held in one or more CDs is $7,074
- The average balance of all retirement accounts is $197,849
- The average checking account balance is $7,680
When you look at the average balances of those who own the particular account, the averages are even higher:
- 51% of American households have a savings account, and the average balance among them is $32,130
- 18% have money market deposit accounts, and the average balance is $74,470
- 7% have one or more CDs and hold a total average $79,240
- 52% have one or more retirement accounts, and the total average balance is $277,670
- 83% have checking accounts and the average balance is $11,260
Median account balances
Median balances are considerably lower than the averages. For example, the median savings account balance is $4,830, significantly lower than the $32,130 average American savings account balance. Fifty percent of households have more than $4,830 in those types of accounts, while 50% have less. (The median figures below only include households that have that type of account.)
- The median American household savings account balance is $4,830
- The median American household money market deposit account balance is $12,600
- The median American household amount in one or more CDs is $21,000
- The median retirement account size in American households is $72,840
- The median American household checking account balance is $2,330
Demographics and savings
Who are the above-average saving households? Wealthier households comprise most of them, but less-well heeled households can have healthy levels of savings as well. When you look at households who have saved more than the national average of $175,410, 59 percent of them are top income earners– those households in the top 20 percent of annual income. But 41 percent of above average savers are in the bottom 80% of income.
Millennial households have saved an average of less than $25,000, Gen Xers have about $125,000 saved, while baby boomers have saved nearly $275,000.
- Regardless of income or age, 29% of households have less than $1,000 saved.
When savings is viewed through certain demographic prisms, like age, income and education, the average and median savings account balances start making more sense. For instance, it won’t surprise anyone that households with higher incomes save more than those of more modest means.
So although the average American household has saved roughly $175,000 in various types of savings accounts, only the top 10%-20% of earners will likely have savings levels approaching or exceeding that amount. Indeed, and as the chart shows, the bottom 40% of American households are more likely than not to have any savings whatsoever. Conversely, the top 10% of the population by income is likely to have many times the national household savings average.
Similarly, millennials will have saved less than boomers, as the latter has had a 35-year head start, among other factors. Currently, the average boomer has roughly 11 times the amount saved as the average millennial.
How much does the average American have in savings for retirement?
Of course, many American households store much of their savings in retirement accounts, like 401(k) plans from their employers and IRAs, both of which are tax-advantaged accounts that can hold not only “liquid” savings but also investments like financial securities and, in some cases, other types of assets like real estate. Fifty-two percent of households have some sort of retirement account, according to a 2016 survey by the Federal Reserve.
Among all households (including those with no account), the average retirement savings account balance as of June 2018 is $144,556.
But among households with an account (about 52% of all households):
- American households with a retirement account (accounts like employer-sponsored 401(k) plans and IRAs) have an average of $277,670 in such accounts.
- The median household balance as of June 2018 is $72,840 among those with retirement accounts.
For those households with retirement accounts, here’s how retirement savings break out among the different generations:
- Millennials have saved an average of $34,030
- Gen Xers have an average of $165,860 in retirement savings.
- Baby boomers and those born before 1946 have an average of $380,100 in retirement accounts.
Recent trends in deposit accounts
Here’s a closer look at how customers of banks and credit unions are allocating their deposits:
CDs are losing shares to traditional and money market accounts
The amount of savings in FDIC-insured banks have grown by nearly $4 trillion since the recession.
But that growth isn’t going into CDs. There’s nearly $1 trillion less in CDs in 2018 than 10 years ago, while the amount of savings in both traditional and money market deposit accounts has increased by more than $2 trillion in each category.
As you may suspect, the primary culprit behind declining CD deposits are the accounts’ low yields. As illustrated in the chart below, the popularity of CDs has waned as banks paid relatively little interest for all CDs, even those with longer maturities. For much of the past decade, the average yield for locking up savings in 1-year CD barely exceeded the average yield on a money market account, which is more liquid than a CD.
Longer-term CDs haven’t been yielding much more, until recently. Although the Federal Reserve began its most recent series of short-term rate hikes in early 2017, CD yields only started to climb from rock bottom in spring 2018.
Credit unions: A smaller pool with slightly better yields
While savings have also increased in the much smaller credit union universe, CD deposits have remained steady.
While there are multiple explanations for the steady share of CDs at credit unions, such as the institutions’ not-for-profit status (members are the shareholders), one obvious reason is the competitive rates they offer customers relative to banks. According to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) quarterly survey, credit unions offer consistently higher rates on savings than commercial banks.
Fortunately, savers (or would-be savers) are not consigned to improving-but-still-meager average savings yields. The best yields for savings accounts, CDs and money market accounts well exceed the average APY by at least one percentage point and often more.