What’s keeping us from saving more?

Saving money continues to be a challenge for Americans. That’s the finding of GOBankingRates’ most recent savings survey.

Since 2015, GOBankingRates has asked Americans how much they have in savings. Each year, the survey results have shown that a majority of adults don’t even have $1,000 in a savings account. That trend continues in 2018.

To find out why this year’s survey also asked respondents what obstacles are preventing them from saving and what they’d be willing to sacrifice to reach their savings goals. For those who are setting aside cash, the poll sought to find out what they are saving for and what resources have helped them manage their savings.

The Overall Savings Rate Isn’t Improving

This year, GOBankingRates asked more than 5,000 adults, “How much money do you have saved in your savings account?” Respondents could choose from one of seven options:

The survey found that 58 % of respondents had less than $1,000 saved.

“It’s always concerning when a large part of the population is seemingly living paycheck to paycheck because when unexpected personal or financial hardships occur, it can be challenging to recover without adequate savings,” Jason Thacker, head of consumer deposits and payments at TD Bank, said.

For the most part, there was very little improvement from last year’s survey. In fact, the percentage of adults with less than $1,000 in savings increased slightly to 58% from 57% in 2017.

The percentage of Americans with absolutely nothing in a savings account did drop to 32 % from 39 % in 2017. While this is a positive sign, Thacker isn’t too encouraged.

It’s Harder for Women to

Save Than Men

Previous GOBankingRates surveys found that women were more frequently in a tough financial position. Women have less money saved in an emergency fund, for example. The savings survey confirmed that fact.

More women have less than $1,000 in savings — 62% of women compared to 53% of men. At the other end of the spectrum, a full 13% of men have more than $50,000 in savings, compared to just 6% of women.

Millennials Are Doing a

Better Job of Saving Than Older Generations

When it comes to saving, older generations could learn a thing or two from millennials. Aside from adults 65 and older, millennials have the smallest percentage of respondents with less than $1,000 saved.

Young millennials, ages 18 -24, actually have the smallest percentage of respondents (along with adults 65 and older) with $0 saved — 26%. That’s a significant improvement over 2017, when 46 % of young millennials said they had $0 saved.

On the flip side, Generation Xers ages 35 to 44 appear to be having the hardest time saving money. Among this age group, 37% have $0 in a savings account. And older Gen Xers ages 45 to 54 have the highest percentage of respondents of any age group with less than $1,000 saved — 62%.

“We all know the cost of living has increased over time, but this generation is also saddled with what I’ll call lifestyle debt — consumer debt, housing debt, school debt, etc.,” Thacker said. “We know that the cost of education has drastically increased and outpaced incomes over time, so I definitely think these and other factors are at play.”

Low Salaries and Living Paycheck to Paycheck Make It Hard to Save

To find out why the savings rate is low, the survey asked, “What obstacle(s) are keeping you from saving more money each month?” The top response — with 31% choosing it — was “I’m living paycheck to paycheck.” This isn’t surprising considering that another GOBankingRates survey found that always living paycheck to paycheck is Americans’ biggest money fear after never being able to retire. TD Bank’s Love & Money survey found nearly identical results: 34% of respondents said living paycheck to paycheck was keeping them from meeting their financial goals.

Gen Xers ages 45 to 54 and Baby Boomers ages 55 to 65 — adults who supposedly are in their prime earning years — were more likely than other age groups to claim that living paycheck to paycheck was their biggest obstacle to saving. And women were much more likely than men to say that they weren’t saving because they were living paycheck to paycheck — 35% versus 26%.

The second-most-common savings obstacle respondents named was a low salary, which can go hand in hand with living paycheck to paycheck. Not surprisingly, millennials — who are just starting out in their careers — were more likely than older generations to claim that a low salary was preventing them from saving more.

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