Here's how much money Americans want to have saved to feel ‘comfortable’

In order to feel "comfortable," Americans want to have a certain amount in the bank.


Americans want to have at least $76,750 in the bank, on average, to feel comfortable about their financial situation.

That's according to a nationwide survey of 2,000 adults in the United States done by the savings and investing app Acorns. With that much stashed away, respondents felt they wouldn't have to worry about how they'd handle a crisis like an unexpected expense or the loss of a job.

But reaching that goal is easier said than done.

According to the most recent Federal Reserve consumer finance data, the average American household has $40,000 in liquid savings across accounts at a bank or another financial intuition. That doesn't include equity in real estate or money in retirement savings such as a 401(k).

Older adults tend to have more saved than younger ones. Those aged 45 to 64 have between $40,900 and $57,200 set aside, the Fed findings show, while people between the ages of 35 and 44 have $25,000. Americans under 35 have just $9,600 put away.

Research by GOBankingRates in 2019 shows some Americans have even less. A survey of nearly 1,000 adults, aged 18 and older, found 24% have less than $1,000 saved. And 45% have nothing saved at all.

Many Americans have financial hurdles to overcome

Acorns found that the biggest barrier to reaching savings goals is income: More than a third, 34%, of respondents say they don't earn as much as they would like.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the average household income was $68,700 annually, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For millennials, it was closer to $47,000. The gap is even wider between genders: Women in the U.S. earn 81 cents for every dollar men make.

The outbreak hasn't helped, either. While some adults are saving more than ever, a significant amount are struggling to make ends meet. Since the start of the crisis, 14%, up to 46 million people, said they've wiped out their emergency savings, according to a CNBC + Acorns Invest In You Savings Survey. And 11% had to borrow money for everyday expenses. 

That's not to mention women have been disproportionately cutting back on job hours to take care of their children and provide educational support at home.

How to save more money

The news isn't all bad. The Acorns survey found that a quarter of Americans already have the ideal amount saved, and another half think they can get there one day. When asked what they would do if gifted $10,000, many would make a smart decision: One-quarter, 25%, would put it toward a rainy-day fund, 12% would pay back debt, and about 10% would invest in retirement.

Simply having the organizational tools to save can also help young Americans bolster their savings. Of the survey respondents aged 18 to 24, nearly 30% say the fact they don't maintain a budget keeps them from saving more. Money experts say that's an easy fix.

How reverse budgeting can relieve money stress

Video by Courtney Stith

Take a critical look at your spending patterns, says Dorothy E. Bossung, a certified financial planner and executive vice president of Lowery Asset Consulting: "Where is your income going? Is there a 'leak in the system'? Going through the process of tracking down how you spend your money now will help you approximate how much money you will need."

And "pay yourself first," she added. "You certainly want to be current with your debt as you want to maintain a good credit record, but paying off debt, whether it is credit cards or a mortgage, [but] eliminating an emergency fund in the process is usually ill-advised."

Other advisors agree. If the health crisis has made anything clear, Erika Safran, a certified financial planner and principal at Safran Wealth Advisors, tells Grow, it's that "an emergency fund is key." It can save you from a surprise bill "so that you don't build up expensive debt."

Get creative about how you can make extra money if you need to. Some of these eight in-demand roles for a post-coronavirus economy, for instance, can pay over $100,000 a year.

How much and how quickly you can save depends on your personal situation, so don't feel bad if you need time, especially if you've been affected by the recession. "When you are back to work and income has returned to some semblance of normal, you can rebuild the savings," Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at personal finance website Bankrate, recently told CNBC. "You don't dry off in the middle of a rainstorm."  

Grow is produced in partnership with Acorns and CNBC.

More from Grow:

acorns+cnbcacorns cnbc

Join Acorns


About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. The contents presented herein are provided for general investment education and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any specific securities or engage in any particular investment strategy. Acorns is not engaged in rendering any tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of advice.

Any references to past performance, regarding financial markets or otherwise, do not indicate or guarantee future results. Forward-looking statements, including without limitations investment outcomes and projections, are hypothetical and educational in nature. The results of any hypothetical projections can and may differ from actual investment results had the strategies been deployed in actual securities accounts. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

Advisory services offered by Acorns Advisers, LLC (“Acorns Advisers”), an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Brokerage and custody services are provided to clients of Acorns Advisers by Acorns Securities, LLC (“Acorns Securities”), a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”). Acorns Pay, LLC (“Acorns Pay”) manages Acorns’s demand deposit and other banking products in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank, a bank chartered under the laws of Iowa and member FDIC. Acorns Advisers, Acorns Securities, and Acorns Pay are subsidiaries of Acorns Grow Incorporated (collectively “Acorns”). “Acorns,” the Acorns logo and “Invest the Change” are registered trademarks of Acorns Grow Incorporated. Copyright © 2021 Acorns and/or its affiliates.

NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns Grow Incorporated.