The amount of money you should have in savings depends on your specific situation and on a variety of factors, such as your age. For example, a worker in their 20s who’s not married or has no children has very different financial needs than a worker in their 30s or 40s with a family and a house.
Most financial experts agree that individuals should have at least 6 to 12 months of savings in their account to serve as a safety net in the event of an emergency. This emergency fund doesn’t include money for special purposes, such as a college fund, retirement account or down payment for a home.
While the exact amount you should have in savings depends on your income and expenses, the following table takes a look at what the average American has in savings based on age.
How much does the average family have in savings (based on age)?
|Age range||Median value of savings||Mean value of savings|
|34 years old and under||$3,240||$11,200|
|35–44 years old||$4,710||$27,900|
|45–54 years old||$5,620||$48,200|
|55–64 years old||$6,400||$55,800|
The mean value of savings represents the average balance of all savings accounts, and it’s calculated by totaling all accounts and dividing by the number of accounts. The median value, on the other hand, represents the middle value. For example, the median of the numbers 5 and 7 is 6. Knowing what the average American your age has in savings can help you determine if you currently have enough money saved or if you need more.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Savings
Using the guide above can give you a rough estimate of how much to save for your family, but it may be difficult understanding how to start saving in your circumstances. Even saving small amounts at a time can quickly add up and, most importantly, help you develop healthy financial habits. Below is a look at several tips to make the most out of your savings.
Follow a Budget
Following a budget is the single most important thing you can do to save money. Understanding where you spend your money can help you eliminate wasteful spending. It’s recommended to budget at least 20% of your earnings for savings.
Start by creating a budget. Do your best to minimize wasteful spending so you can meet this 20% threshold. For example, look through your statements to find any subscription services you no longer use.
Track Your Income
Next, itemize all your income and expenses to make sure you stay on course. A number of useful apps can help you track these transactions. Be sure to monitor your budget and make adjustments as necessary.
Create Separate Accounts
Combining your spending money and savings is rarely a good idea. Having all your money in just one account makes it appear that you have more available funds than you do, which can entice you to spend more than you should. It’s recommended to set up a separate savings account so you’re not tempted to use this money.
Be on the lookout for creative ways to save money. For example, any extra money you get, such as a work bonus, proceeds from a yard sale or birthday money, should go directly into your savings account.
Earn More Money
You can also look for alternative streams of income. For example, consider turning a hobby into a side business or earning some extra cash tutoring. These additional earnings can go directly into your savings account and help you build your emergency fund or reach your financial goals faster.
Automate Your Savings
Even with the best of intentions, it can be hard to remember to transfer your savings into a separate account. Unfortunately, failure to transfer these funds puts you at a greater risk of spending this money rather than saving.
You can avoid this problem by setting up automated transfers with your bank. This process automatically transfers funds from your paycheck into your savings account. Since this money isn’t included in your regular checking account, you won’t be as tempted to spend it.
If you have multiple outstanding bills, including credit card debt and medical bills, consider consolidating this debt into just one credit account. Consolidating debt can lower the amount you pay toward debt each month and allow you to put more funds into your savings account. While it may take longer to pay down your debt, you can save more for future emergencies rather than risk going into debt again.
Speak With a Financial Professional
Opening a separate savings account is a good first step, but there are better ways to grow your money. Once you’ve set up your accounts and saved at least a few hundred dollars, it’s time to talk with a financial professional. A financial advisor can help you explore your investment options and determine which opportunities can help you grow your wealth faster.
Try to Pay Minimal Fees
It’s important to understand that all bank accounts are not the same. Every bank puts different restrictions, fees and interest rates on the various accounts they offer. In many cases, accounts with the lowest fees are those that require a minimum daily balance. However, that’s not always the case.
So, take some time to shop around to determine which banks offer the best rates and the lowest fees. For example, consider moving your savings into a high-yield savings account. These accounts offer higher interest rates than standard accounts, which can help grow your money by just leaving it in the bank.
As your savings account continues to grow, the types of savings accounts you may qualify for will also change. Take the time to frequently explore your options to make sure your money is in an account that works best for you.
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