Last Updated: February 19, 2024
Financial stability is hard to achieve.
It can be a source of stress, fear, and worry for many Americans.
We were wondering:
What can personal finance statistics tell us about the state of affairs in 2021?
We all need a better handle of our money management.
How to do it and what to expect?
Let’s dive in and get to know things a bit better:
Personal Finance Statistics (Editor’s Choice):
- The lack of financial literacy cost Americans $415 billion in 2020.
- The average credit card debt in America is $6,270.
- Around 40% of Americans have less than $300 in savings.
- Only 30% of Americans have a long-term financial plan.
- The average US household’s median income was $78,500 in 2020.
- A staggering 63% of Americans had their personal finances affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Some 44% of Americans expect their finances to improve in 2021.
Our earnings seem to be covering less and less these days.
The cost of living seems to be getting higher.
This is why it is important to make sure you check out this list of essential personal finance stats. They will help you spot your own potential mistakes and make the right plans for your financial future right now.
Stats About Financial Literacy in the US
Financial literacy needs to be encouraged among the populace. So we’re going to kick off by looking at some of the country’s financial literacy stats.
Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
1. Only 24% of Millennials demonstrate basic financial literacy.
(Source: National Endowment for Financial Education)
This is a pretty sobering statistic when you think about it.
Less than a quarter of Millennials have a basic understanding of finances and the need to save and budget. This could be because of the rise in technology.
Millennial personal finance tools and options are more widespread than ever. But it seems that a lot of Millennials aren’t equipped to make the most of these. This is causing them to overlook the important aspects of their finances.
2. Financial illiteracy cost Americans $415 billion in 2020.
(Source: National Financial Educators Council)
The lack of money management knowledge may cost you your financial health.
According to the NFEC study, the average US citizen lost $1,634 in 2020 because of insufficient personal finance understanding.
Even more concerning is the fact that the data represents an increase from the 2018 and 2019 surveys, when Americans lost $1,230 and $1,279, on average.
3. Less than half of US States require students to take a course on personal finance.
(Source: Council for Economic Education)
We deal with money and make financial decisions every day. Yet we leave our childhood and adolescence years with very little knowledge about mortgages, student loan debt, and responsible credit card usage.
Just 21 US states require high school students to take a course in personal finance. While representing less than a half of the country, this figure is an increase of four states since 2018.
We can hope that this tendency will continue, with more Americans receiving adequate preparation for this cash-driven world.
US Debt Statistics
Debt stats and facts reflect the financial literacy issues and economic struggles US citizens face. Let’s look at the details:
4. Over 40% of student loan borrowers aren’t making payments.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)
More Americans have a degree-level education than ever before. That should be a good thing. However, it has also led to a significant rise in student loan debt. The stats above shows the issues with that.
It’s important for US citizens to come out of their education, get into a successful career, and make sure they are financially stable. However, this is hard to achieve that with student loans looming.
But that’s far from the country’s most common debt problem…
5. The average credit card debt in America stands at $6,270.
Credit card debt is one of the biggest financial problems that households face in the modern world. According to estimates, 45.4% of families carry some sort of credit card debt.
Credit cards are an important safety net for some families.
They can become a problem for those with a lack of financial literacy, who don’t fully understand the ramifications of credit card debt.
Statistics About Saving Money in the US
Saving money is one of the most important aspects of the world of personal finance. Here are some pretty sobering statistics on saving money to highlight the importance:
6. On average, US adults had $65,900 in their personal savings in 2020.
(Source: Northwestern Mutual)
This figure represents a 10% rise from the $59,737 median savings reported in 2019. It excludes retirement funds like 4001(k) and IRA. So, this the average amount people have saved for emergency situations and long-term goals.
The increase aligns with the US Bureau of Economic Analysis data, which shows the savings rate hit a record 33.7% in April 2020 and has hovered around 20% in the following months. The savings rate during 2019 was approximately 7.5%.
7. Just 39% of Americans have enough cash to cover a $1,000 emergency.
Sometimes US financial statistics make for pretty grim reading. This is another example. Nearly 4 in 10 Americans would need to borrow or squeeze their spendings to pay an unexpected bill.
In 2020, 41% of respondents said they could afford a surprise $1,000 bill, while 40% said the same in 2019.
Have you been this tight for cash? Worrying every day in case you face an emergency or disaster? Understanding the need to have savings is something that could well help to combat credit card debt and financial ruin.
Hold on, it gets worse…
8. 32% of Americans saved nothing for retirement in 2020.
(Source: SimplyWise, LearnBonds)
Thinking about your financial future is so important. Not enough people take the time to do this!
According to the SimplyWise January 2021 Retirement Confidence Index, 23% of Americans don’t have any retirement plan at all.
Retirement stats further show that half of Americans have less than $100,000 saved up for their golden years. This is nowhere near enough for the future. The cost of living statistics suggest Millennials could need as much as $2.5 million to retire!
These retirement savings statistics are important to understand how much it matters to plan for the future.
9. Just over 70% of Americans’ retirement plan is to keep working.
(Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute)
This is not one of those saving money statistics you want to read about. It makes for pretty tragic circumstances.
As of 2020, the vast majority of Americans expected to keep working after retirement age. In fact, around 31% already do just that.
It is crazy to think that at 70, people would still be considering working. Especially when it comes to manual work!
But it really shouldn’t be that surprising
10. 40% of Americans have saved less than $300.
While the median savings amount is quite sound, many Americans are struggling to put money aside. Recent economic problems have further worsened the situation for some. Namely, the 2020 figure is a decrease from the previous year’s $400 in savings used by the Federal Reserve as a gauge for measuring households’ financial health.
Breaking down the survey by gender, more of the respondents who stated their savings were in the $0-300 bracket were female. This could be an extension of the gender gap in income.
Truth be told, we all need to work on our financial planning.
Financial Planning and Personal Budgeting Statistics
It’s imperative for Americans to understand the importance of planning and budgeting. So we are going to take a look at some of the most essential financial planning statistics.
11. Only around a quarter of Americans have some kind of written financial plan.
(Source: Schwab 2019 Modern Wealth Index)
Personal budgeting statistics suggest that only 25% of American citizens have or use some sort of written financial plan. That’s shockingly low!
You’re not expected to be a financial planner, but you should map out some kind of financial goal for the future.
It’s for your own good!
12. Only 30% of Americans have a long-term financial plan.
Personal budget statistics from Gallup show that there are only around 1 in 3 of us who actually use some sort of household budget plan. Given the fact that we have so many expenses these days, it’s really important to come up with a budget.
Only 30% have a long-term financial plan that involves thinking about savings and investments for the future.
This is something you need to look at getting sorted as soon as you can. It will help you plan for the future.
13. 70% of Americans say their financial planning needs work.
(Source: Northwestern Mutual)
While median savings are up overall, people have significant concerns about what could take place over the coming months and years, and how it might impact their finances. It’s pretty clear that there is more we could be doing to look after our financial future.
Making sure you have a strong financial plan in place will help you significantly in the future. Trying to set more money aside is crucial.
Cost of living stats suggest that it is more and more difficult to put money aside.
However, there are plenty of techniques that can help with this. From apps to seminars, there’s something for everyone out there.
14. Over half of Americans use budgeting tools.
Budgeting spreadsheet templates and tools can make budgeting more organized and streamlined. Many applications also offer a way to make this task easier by connecting your bank account and credit card to an associated budget.
According to United States financial statistics, most people use Excel and other similar spreadsheet tools. Next in the list of preferences is the dedicated apps. Some also rely on financial planner and advice from family members.
No matter what option you choose, make sure to seek assistance with budgeting if you need it. Don’t give up on the idea just because it may seem overwhelming or too complicated.
15. 58% of Americans feel comfortable creating a personal budget.
Drafting a budget is not an impossible task for most Americans, though. In 2020, two-fifths of people set a personal budget monthly.
To wrap-up the budgeting and savings topic, we should note that people who don’t have a budget tend to save less than people who stick to a preset cash expense plan.
So, if you want to avoid living paycheck-to-paycheck and keep some of your income for future goals and needs, make sure you stay on track with your spending.
And speaking of income…
Personal Income Stats for Americans
We’re going to look at some of the personal financial statistics you should know about when it comes to personal income.
16. In 2020 the average US household’s median income was $78,500.
(Source: US Department of Housing and Urban Development)
The median income for the average American household has increased by almost 4% from 2019. So, personal finance statistics show positive growth, right?
But might they be masking deeper problems?
During the 2000-2018 period the household income growth rate was 0.3. This marks a significant slowdown from the pace maintained between 1970 and 2000. If there wasn’t such a slowdown,the current median income would be about $87,000.
17. Statistics suggest middle-aged Americans earn the most.
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
According to the personal finance statistics from the Bureau of Labor, the highest-earning Americans are the 45-54 year-olds. The median weekly earnings for this age group in the second quarter of 2021 was $1,134.
Teenagers and people in their early twenties made around half of that figure ($619 per week). No surprises here, younger people usually have lower-paying jobs!
Covid-19 Impact on Personal Finances
The coronavirus outbreak has taken the world by storm. The widespread health crisis has led to economic problems for countries and individuals all around the globe.
Let’s see how the pandemic has affected Americans’ personal finances.
18. 63% of Americans had their personal finances affected by the pandemic.
This figure may not be surprising considering the situation. Yet, that’s a huge percentage of people experiencing the negative consequences of the pandemic.
More specifically, American personal finance statistics show 55% of people had to tap into their savings. Also, the number of US citizens living paycheck-to-paycheck has increased — 37.5% compared to 33% in December 2019.
19. Almost half of Americans have missed one or more rent/mortgage payments since the Covid-19 outbreak
What is more, 25% of the survey respondents have missed more than one payment. Younger generations were hit the hardest, US financial statistics shows.
Missed payments lead to debt accumulation. Let’s see how these figures have changed!
20. 16% of Americans say they have more debt than before the pandemic.
Among all types of arrears, credit card debt mounted up the most, with about 17% of respondents reporting an increase.
Apparently, the debt increase figures don’t vary significantly by income. This means that no matter how much people were making, they all struggled to adjust to the changing backdrop and remain financially stable. Yet, there is a tendency of more people with higher earnings paying down debt.
Amid the unstable economy and persisting health threat, saving money has naturally become a higher priority than paying down debt.
Some 52% of surveyed Americans said they were more likely to boost their emergency fund that covering their credit card obligation. At the beginning of 2020, this figure was 45%.
21. 30% of Americans report decreased income due to the coronavirus
Surprisingly, 12% of the survey respondents said their income had increased. And sticking to the tendency outlined above, 48% of those who reported an increase in earnings have put the extra money in emergency saving funds.
Yet, the bigger picture is rather grim, as you can see in the next personal finance stats entry.
22. About 35% of people said their emergency savings were lower
The pandemic and its economic fallout have provided a stark reminder of the importance of building an emergency fund to help keep your financial health when the unexpected happens.
Unfortunately, only 16% of the survey respondents said they are very comfortable with their emergency funds. Households earning less than $30,000 a year felt the most uncomfortable with their savings situation.
Yet, 21% of the survey respondents said they had no emergency funds at all. This the lowest in the 10-year history of the Bankrate poll and once again shows the change in people’s priorities.
23. 44% of people are expecting their finances to improve in 2021
Let’s finish this personal finance statistics section on an upbeat note!
Younger millennials are most optimistic about their future financial situation, with the slim majority of them (53%) anticipating an improvement. On the other end of the spectrum are those aged 66+. Just 28% of them said they expect a personal finances boost.
Is yet to see what 2021 will bring. The successful Covid-19 vaccine rollout may gradually put things back to normal.
Optimism is good for your mental state but isn’t enough to keep your finances afloat. You need to be responsible with your spending and get prepared for emergencies.
OK, you can breathe now.
It’s pretty clear that there are a lot of financial concerns for the average US citizen nowadays. It seems to be becoming more and more difficult to make ends meet. It’s important that you come up with ways of combating this. Whether it’s saving more money, trimming down your outstanding debts, or bringing more money into the home, healthy financial management habits are crucial.
You have the power to make a real change to your financial circumstances right now!
You can use these personal finance statistics to your advantage. Don’t let them bring you down. Learn from them!
Good luck and hopefully we’ll meet soon, on SpendMeNot.com!
According to CNBC, only 29% of Americans are actually financially healthy.
This is a frightening statistic! Only 29% of people believe they are planning, saving, and building toward a more positive future!
We’ve got chills down our spines!
According to personal finance stats, the average American has debts of around $92,727. This figure includes credit card balances, student loans, mortgages and more.
The average checking account balance was $10,618 in 2019.
The most recent Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) shows the median bank account balance for US households was $5,300 in 2019. And the average bank account balance was $40,000.
- National Endowment for Financial Education
- National Financial Educators Council
- Council for Economic Education
- The Wall Street Journal
- Northwestern Mutual
- Employee Benefit Research Institute
- Schwab 2019 Modern Wealth Index
- Northwestern Mutual
- US Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Bureau of Labor Statistics