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Updated on Monday, October 21, 2019
- The average American household has $183,200 worth of savings in bank accounts and retirement savings accounts as of June 2019.
- The median American household currently holds about $12,330 across these same types of accounts.
- The top 1% of households (as measured by income) have an average of $2,630,760 in these various saving accounts. The bottom 20% have an average of $9,190.
- 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 $24,570 retirement savings. Gen Xers have $127,550 in retirement savings. Baby boomers and those born before 1946 have an average of $279,250.
- 29% of households have less than $1,000 in savings.
- 30% of Americans deplete their savings an average of $14,230 every year.
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 2019 levels by using March 2019 market values and fund flows.
Of course, these are very broad numbers, and very few of the 127 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 2019, among all households (including those with no account):
- The average American household savings account balance is $17,750
- The average American household has $6,220 in certificates of deposits (CDs)
- The average American household has $9,430 in money market deposit accounts
- The average American household has $9,820 in checking accounts
- The average American household has $149,790 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 $24,290
- The average money market deposit account balance is $12,210
- The average amount held in one or more CDs is $8,520
- The average balance of all retirement accounts is $205,020
- The average checking account balance is $11,970
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 $34,730
- 18% have money market deposit accounts, and the average balance is $74,970
- 7% have one or more CDs with an average toal value of $95,600
- 52% have one or more retirement accounts, and the total average balance is $287,736
- 83% have checking accounts and the average balance is $11,970
Median account balances
Median balances are considerably lower than the averages. For example, the median savings account balance (among those with savings accounts) is $4,960, significantly lower than the $34,730 average American savings account balance. Fifty percent of households have more than $4,960 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 $4,960
- The median American household money market deposit account balance is $12,680
- The median American household amount in one or more CDs is $25,280
- The median retirement account size in American households is $75,480
- The median American household checking account balance is $2,480
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 $183,200, 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% by income.
- Millennial households have saved an average of less than $25,000, Gen Xers have about $128,000 saved, while baby boomers have saved nearly $280,000.
- 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 $180,000 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 above 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 2019 is $149,800.
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 $287,740 in such accounts.
- The median household balance as of June 2018 is $75,480 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 $34,570
- Gen Xers have an average of $168,480 in retirement savings.
- Baby boomers and those born before 1946 have an average of $386,110 in retirement accounts.
Nearly one-third of Americans deplete their savings by an average of $14,230 every year
According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, while nearly half of households grew their savings, 30% of households depleted their savings accounts at least once over the past five years. As might be expected, those with lower incomes (which may include working families as well as retirees) were more likely to draw down their savings an average of $14,230.
- 49% of people with savings and investment accounts reported that they contributed to their balances over the course of the previous year, while 30% dipped into their savings, and 21% kept contributions and withdrawals even
- Households with incomes of $25,000 averaged a net year-over-year withdrawal of $2,834. Net withdrawal for households between $25,001 and $50,000 was $792
- 64% said they depleted their accounts to pay bills and 57% said they did to pay for general living expenses. (Respondents were allowed to choose more than cause.)
- 15% said their voluntary decision to stop working was a cause, which suggests their savings were planned for that reason
- 27% blamed reduced health and 16% said involuntary job loss was a factor
- 24% of respondents said they didn’t have savings or investment 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 finally getting attention
The amount of savings in FDIC-insured banks have grown by nearly $4 trillion since the recession.
But until recently that deposit growth wasn’t going into CDs. Collectively there’s still less savings in CDs than ten years ago, while $2 trillion more have gone into savings accounts, and $2.2 trillion in Money Market Deposit Accounts (a type of savings account that typically allows checkwriting).
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. And as you might expect, as the yields for CDs increased, the deposits from savers have followed. Over the past year CDs at commercial banks grew by 17%, to $1.86 trillion in June 2019.
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 usually 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.