60% Of Americans Say the Pandemic Has Made Them Realize How Little They Have Saved

Three-in-four Americans report saving as much as or more than they did last year, 40% say it’s because they have a better understanding of how to set up a budget

The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping Americans’ perceptions of their pre-pandemic financial habits, according to a new survey from Discover. Sixty percent of Americans say the pandemic made them realize just how little savings they have, and 71% say it made them want to consider saving more than they had previously.

Most Americans (75%) report that they are saving either the same amount or more in 2021 than they did in 2020. Almost half of those who are saving (47%) are putting away less than $200 a month. Gen Z savers are saving the least, with 55% reporting savings under $200 a month, followed by 49% of Gen X and 47% of millennials.

“Though the past year has been difficult financially for many Americans, it is encouraging to see people prioritizing putting away money where they can and taking small steps to enhance financial futures through continued savings, even if the total amount seems low,” said Ram Subramanian, vice president of Deposits at Discover. “Especially in difficult economic times, this can be a significant start toward an emergency fund, down payment or nest egg for retirement. If consumers understand their financial situation and know how to best leverage savings vehicles, it can go a long way in fully maximizing what they’re putting away.”

Americans say financial literacy is helping them save more, while non-savers don’t believe they make enough

For those who are saving more in 2021, 40% say it’s because they have a better understanding of how to set up a budget, and 34% say they are spending less as a result of pandemic limitations. Additionally, 22% are shoring up their savings in response to financial instability amid the pandemic.

Savings habits vary by generation, yet over half of Gen Z and millennials credit an increased awareness of how to budget as the reason they’re saving more than they did a year ago (54% and 51% respectively). These generations are also the most likely to have sought resources to better understand how to budget and save amid the pandemic. Sixty-eight percent of Gen Z and 71% of millennials reported doing so.

Just 9% of Americans say they are not saving at all. When asked the reasons why they aren’t saving, 56% said it’s because they don’t make enough money to save, while 13% said they aren’t sure why they don’t currently save.

Discover’s survey found that increased wages would be the most compelling reason to put aside more money within the next six months. Further, 21% of Americans not saving said a one-time increase in income, like a stimulus check, would increase their likelihood of saving.

About the Survey

The national survey of 1,995 U.S. consumers ages 18 and up was commissioned by Discover and conducted by Dynata (formerly Research Now/SSI), an independent survey research firm, between February 12 and February 19, 2021. The maximum margin of sampling error was +/-3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. Generations are defined as: Generation Z, born after 1997 (ages 18-24); millennials, born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 25-40); Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980 (ages 41-56); Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964 (ages 57-75); and Silent Generation, born between 1928 and 1945 (ages 76-93).

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a digital banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through its banking business. It operates the Discover Global Network comprised of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance around the world. For more information, visit www.discover.com/company.


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