When it comes to saving, there are all kinds of rules about how much you should save. Some people use the 50/20/30 rule, which breaks finances into three categories: fixed costs, financial goals, and flexible spending. Under this model 50% of your income after taxes goes towards essentials, 20% goes towards savings and paying off debt, and 30% goes towards personal/lifestyle choices.
Others argue that this rule places too much of an emphasis on spending a certain percentage and saving a certain percentage of your net income, rather than creating a budget around your annual expenses, which may be lower than 50% and allow you to save more.
Many financial planners suggest saving 10-15% of your pre-tax income for retirement starting in your 20s, or 15-25% starting in your 30s, plus putting savings into an emergency fund, as well as saving for large purchases.
With the optimal annual savings hovering around 20%, we wondered how much people regularly save. To find out, we surveyed 1002 people between the ages of 18-64 and asked them how much they save on average. The answer? 14.8%.
Interestingly, younger groups reported saving more. In urban areas, 25-34 year olds saved 15.5%, while 35-44 year olds saved 10.2%, and 45-54 year olds saved 10.0%. In suburban areas, 18-24 year olds saved 15.6%, 35-44 year olds 9.9%, and 45-54 year olds 9.4%. Savings went up to 11.3% with the 55-64 year old age group. The trend of younger groups saving more may be because they have fewer expenses — they’re less likely to pay mortgages, support family members, and the like.
Where people lived also affected how much they saved. Of those making $25,000-$49,000, people in the Northeast saved the least at 7.9%. However, the cost of living in the Northeast is relatively higher than that Midwest or South. People in the West saved 13.5%, South 13.8%, and Midwest 14.6%.
Men reported saving 15.6% in comparison with women’s 13.4%. However, men may be able to save more because they make more. The US Census Bureau’s 2014 report found that full-time, year-round male workers earn a median income of $50,383, while women earn $39,621.
Though it may seem like a daunting task to save at least 20% of your paycheck, especially if you’re saving much less than that now, small lifestyle changes can help you save big in the long run. Did you know that washing clothes in cold water can save about $0.50 per load? Or that every one psi drop in tire pressure lowers gas mileage by 0.4 miles per gallon? To give you a few simple ideas on how you can save, we created the visual below.