This page contains information about investing for educational purposes. NerdWallet, Inc. is not a brokerage or advisory service, and does not recommend or advise investors on the purchase or sale of particular securities, stocks, or other investments. Saving money is a constant work in progress, just like keeping your health. You can always save money, […]

This page contains information about investing for educational purposes. NerdWallet, Inc. is not a brokerage or advisory service, and does not recommend or advise investors on the purchase or sale of particular securities, stocks, or other investments.

Saving money is a constant work in progress, just like keeping your health. You can always save money, whether for your long-term financial goals or to spend on vacations.

According to a recent NerdWallet online survey by The Harris Poll, 9 out of 10 Americans (89%) regularly save. Although emergency funds and retirement are the most popular savings goals, more work needs to be done. According to a survey of 2,035 adult respondents from March 30 to April 3, 2023, 155.6 million Americans, or 60%, do not have a retirement account.

Saving money is important for your financial well-being, says Chanelle Bessette, a NerdWallet banker. Saving money for an emergency or to be able retire, or even to take a vacation can give you a sense security and help you avoid debt. You could earn more money on your cash if you invest it over a longer period of time.

Note: In this report, the term “savers”, refers to Americans who (89%) say that they regularly save money.

Key Findings

The average monthly savings is around $1,000. According to a survey, Americans who save regularly typically put aside $985 per month on average.

Most people save for emergencies. Over half of Americans (53%) regularly set aside money for emergencies.

The emergency fund may not be enough. According to a survey, less than half of Americans (45%) would be able cover a $1,000 expense in an emergency without using a loan or credit card.

Millions of Americans miss out on retirement savings accounts. Estimated 155.6 million Americans (60%) lack a retirement savings account. Half of the baby boomers (ages 59-77) are not saving for retirement. 56% of the Generation X (ages 45-58) and 66% of millennials (27-92) are also missing.

Who is saving what?

According to the survey, nearly 9 out of 10 Americans (89%) save regularly. The money could be in a high-yield account or a shoebox, but it’s being saved regularly. It’s interesting to note that the younger generations are most likely to save regularly.

According to the survey, savers say that they usually set aside an average of $985 in a typical month. The median reported amount is $250. This includes both money saved in traditional vehicles like certificates of deposit, savings accounts and cash kept at home.

Savings tip for the savvy saver: While keeping cash on hand can make you feel safe, filling up a basement safe could do your savings harm. You can save just enough money to make you feel comfortable. This could be enough to cover a month’s worth of living expenses. High-yielding savings accounts and CDs can earn you some interest and your money is insured up to $250,000. While the money won’t be close by, it will still be available.

Top priorities: Savings for retirement, emergencies and vacations

The top two goals that people save for regularly are undoubtedly financial responsible: retirement (43%), and emergencies (53%). Vacation goals (42%) are a popular choice, as we don’t want to work too hard without having fun.

Generation Z is the only generation that cites vacation savings as a top reason for saving regularly.

Saver tip: it’s okay to set multiple goals for saving and have fun at the same time. Having separate savings vehicles is one way to be strategic with these piles of savings. One way to get strategic about these stacks of savings is by having separate savings vehicles. Online savings accounts allow you to manage multiple accounts, or subaccounts, in one location. Each account can be used for a different category of your budget.

Savings for emergencies: A work in progress

Savings are geared towards achieving a cushion for financial emergencies. It’s a common goal. Emergency savings may change as you move through life stages.

A good emergency fund is to have enough money set aside to cover an unexpected auto repair. However, the survey found that only 45% of Americans could pay for a $1,000 expense without using a loan or credit card. In the past 12 months, 25% of Americans paid their bills with money they had saved or taken from a retirement plan.

Saver tip for the savvy: In an ideal world, you would have set aside several months’ worth of living expenses in case of an unexpected emergency. It takes time to build up this type of fund. Start small: if you don’t have anything, start with a $500 fund. Set your sights on living expenses for a whole month if you only have a few hundred bucks. Do what you can when you suddenly find yourself in need of additional cash.

Retired savings: There is room for improvement

Despite the fact that 43% of Americans claim to save regularly for retirement, 60% of American adult don’t own a retirement-specific account like a 401(k), investment retirement account (also known as an IRA), or a separate retirement savings account. This is about 155.6 millions adults. It’s not surprising that the younger the person, the less likely it is they have a bank account.

Bessette offers a savvy saver’s tip: “Retirement might seem far away, but it is precisely this distance that makes your retirement savings so powerful,” he says. The sooner you begin, the longer you will have to accumulate wealth in the years leading up to retirement.

Opening a new account

Total, 24% have opened a saving account in the past 12 months. 14% are with online-only banking and 13% are at traditional banks or creditunions. These figures don’t add up to 24 percent because some respondents might have opened accounts at both traditional and online institutions.

They could be motivated by dissatisfaction: Less than half of Americans (48%) say they are satisfied with the bank which provides their primary saving account. The banking industry’s turmoil may also play a role.

This survey was conducted from March 30 to April 3. Some new accounts may have been opened as a result of the two high-profile bank failures, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. Large traditional banks reported a surge in deposits during this period.

According to the survey, only 40% of Americans are aware that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. doesn’t cover deposits up to $5000 in personal savings accounts. The rate was likely lower before the failure and media coverage surrounding the FDIC’s insurance coverage, which is up to $250,000 for each depositor and institution.

Bessette, a savvy saver, says: “The recent news of bank failures made consumers aware of the importance FDIC insurance.” If you have more than $250,000 on deposit in your account, you should consider how to ensure that your money is protected.

Shop for the best savings rates

According to the survey, half (50%) know that interest rates on savings accounts have increased in the past 12 months. It may not be enough. 36% of Americans believe that the interest rate on their savings accounts is too low.

Checking the rates periodically is one way to make sure you are getting the best deal. Just 12% of Americans switch savings accounts at least once a year to get better rates, according to the survey. It is possible that higher interest rates will work in your favor. Savings accounts offer very little interest. According to the FDIC, the average national interest rate on savings accounts is only 0.39% APY (annual percentage yield).

Savers should also check CD rates when comparing savings account interest rates. Both rates have risen over the last few months. If you do not need immediate access to your money, a CD may offer a better return. Around 1 in 10 Americans (11%) have opened a CD during the last 12 months.

Bessette advises that now is the perfect time to compare your bank with other options. If you are happy with your bank’s checking account but wish you could have a better rate for your savings, then you can mix and match accounts between different banks.


The Harris Poll conducted this survey online in the United States from March 30 to April 3, 2023 among 2,035 U.S. adult U.S. residents aged 18 or older. Harris’ online polls are measured using Bayesian credible ranges. The sample data for this study is accurate within +/-2.8 percentage points when using a confidence level of 95%. Please contact Lauren Nash, [email protected], for the complete survey methodology including weighting variables, subgroup sample size, and more.

Estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau’s population for 2022 were used to calculate the number of adults who do not have a retirement savings account.


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