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When it comes to setting aside cash in your savings account, how would you rank it as a priority: very important, somewhat important or not at all important? If you’re like 52% of Americans surveyed in a recent Bankrate poll, boosting your emergency savings is a higher priority than paying down credit card debt.

And that’s great news!

Having funds set aside in an emergency fund can help you prepare for life’s unexpected surprises, like when strong winds rip shingles off your roof, your sweet cat eats something she should not have, you suddenly find yourself out of work or another unplanned expense arises.

Average American savings: how do you stack up?

As your age increases, typically so do your expenses. If you plan to have three to six months of living expenses saved up in your emergency fund, this guide can help you plan how much to save. While the median savings account balance in the U.S. is $5,300, with many variations by location, age and other demographics, here is a breakdown of how much savings you should have by age.

Using the average monthly spending of $5,100, and the plan to set aside three to six months of living expenses, here’s a breakdown of how much you should have saved up at each age.

Average savings by 25 $1,000 to $5,100
Average savings by 30 $5,100 to $15,300
Average savings by 40 $10,200 to $20,400
Average savings by 50 $15,300 to $25,500
Average savings by 60 $20,400 to $30,600
Average savings by 70 $25,500 to $35,700
 Average savings by 80 $30,600 to $40,800

The totals shown above will help you get started with building your savings. If you are just starting out, aim to get at least $1,000 in your emergency fund to help cover unplanned expenses. From there, work your way up to three to six months of living expenses, but don’t stop there!

If you’re also looking to build your retirement fund, plan to set aside at least one time your salary by 30, three times your salary by 40, six times your salary by 50, eight times your salary by 60, and ten times your salary by 67, according to a recent CNBC article. For more information on preparing for retirement, visit the Verve Wealth Management website.

Tips to build your savings

  • Don’t increase your spending if you get a raise. Did you recently get a promotion? Forget about it! Instead, put any additional money you see on your paycheck into savings.
  • Give your credit card a month off. The median credit card debt in America is $2,700, so if you are like many Americans and find yourself stretched and tapping into your reserves just to pay the monthly minimum payment amount on your credit card, try giving your credit card the month off. If you charge all expenses to your credit card, plan to make all your purchases with your debit card instead. That means you’ll need to be more purposeful about your purchases and really plan ahead for what you need and what expenses will need to wait (like that tempting summer-themed endcap item at your favorite store). While you may not have made a dent in your credit card debt, you likely didn’t add to it, so that’s a huge bonus!
  • Plan your budget and work your budget. We may sound like a broken record by now, but by laying out all of your income and expenses, you can clearly see how much you make and how much you spend each month. Identify expenses that need to be trimmed (maybe fewer trips to the ice cream shop and more big tubs of ice cream from the grocery store instead) and what items can be eliminated entirely (such as duplicate streaming accounts).
  • Set up automatic transfers. If you set aside $1 a day, or $7 a week, you’ll have $364 saved up in one year’s time. You can even put this on auto-pilot by opening a Name Your Savings account and setting up automatic transfers in online banking.

Want more details on how to build your savings? Check out our monthly blog posts for more.