Couple splitting money between them

(Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels)

NEW YORK — Many Americans may want to think about making money management their New Year’s resolution. New research shows that one in five Americans would rate their ability to save money as “fair” or “poor.” The survey of 2,000 employed men and women looked at the differences in how they save for the future and found that men are more likely than women to rate their money-saving abilities as higher than average (55% vs. 39%).

Even though their confidence in their saving abilities varies, half the poll also say they would take financial advice equally as seriously coming from a woman or a man. Generally, people would be motivated to learn about their finances to secure their future (62%), maximize the value of the money they already have (60%), and not have to rely on someone else (54%).

Conducted by OnePoll for BOK Financial, the survey finds that the average person started saving money at around 24 years-old. Twenty-three percent learned how to best manage their finances from their parents as children and 22 percent feel they put their skills to the test when they first started living on their own.

These respondents would advise others to start even earlier — from the first time they receive an allowance or monetary gifts as a child (32%) and once they have a job that produces income (24%).

However, only 21 percent of Americans think it’s a high priority for them to save money from each paycheck, with men making this a higher priority (59% vs. 44%).

saving money

Saving money can be hard at any age

Consequently, one in 11 respondents don’t feel financially secure for the future. Respondents estimate that 30 percent of their paycheck goes to bills and other required monthly expenses like rent or car insurance. Half say their monthly expenses are even more costly than that (49%).

The average employed person claims to save about a quarter of their paycheck (26%), but more than one-third of respondents admit they save less than this (36%). Most Americans hold their savings in a savings account (66%) or checking account (54%), while the least popular options include certificates of deposit (CDs) (38%) or an investment account that holds stocks and bonds (32%).

“Which savings vehicle is right for you depends on your objective,” says Kimberly Bridges, director of financial planning at BOK Financial, in a statement. “For example, for short-term goals, like putting money away for a down payment, a savings or money-market account might work best. A financial planner can sit down with you and offer suggestions based on your complete financial picture.”

Do you have a rainy day fund?

Sixty-three percent of respondents have an “emergency fund” – a reserve of money for times when their regular income is disrupted or decreases. Men are more likely to have one than women (69% vs. 57%). Those with an emergency fund estimate that they have about five months’ worth of income there.

In the same vein, half of those surveyed have started saving for retirement (54%) in a company-provided account like a 401(k) or 403(b). Another 34 percent utilize an individual retirement account (IRA) to hold their savings. The average person wants to retire at age 59, but 37 percent of Americans are aiming for an even earlier retirement.

Respondents shared that they want to retire before the 66-year-old standard because their “savings will be good enough,” they want to “be able to live a healthy life without working,” and they feel they “should be enjoying what I have worked for.”

“The pandemic caused many people to weigh what they feel really matters in life,” Bridges says. “If you do decide that you want to retire early, it is possible but you need a concrete plan in place for how you will financially manage the rest of your life.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 1,000 employed men + 1,000 employed women was commissioned by BOK Financial between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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