Many Americans Prioritize Emergency Fund Savings Over Retirement Savings

Individuals polled by First National Bank of Omaha also shared reasons they do not have as much savings as they'd like.

Asked what their No. 1 savings goal is, 40% of Americans say it is an emergency fund, and only 26% say it is retirement, according to the 2019 Savings Survey conducted by First National Bank of Omaha. The bank released its findings in recognition of America Saves Week.

The survey also found that 74% of Americans put 10% or less of their monthly paycheck toward savings, and 23% save nothing. Sixty percent think they are somewhat are very likely to be on track with their savings to retire at age 65. Forty-nine percent save they only have enough liquid funds to cover living expenses for 0-3 months.

Asked why they do not have as much savings as they would like, 26% say it is the high cost of living, 13% say it is credit card debt, and 13% say it is educational debt.

Sixty-three percent do not set annual savings goals, and 53% say they are living paycheck to paycheck. Twenty-five percent say they have never had to withdraw from their savings account, while 24% do so once a month, and 21%, once a year.

“With debt and living expenses on the rise in much of the country, the importance of setting financial goals—and sticking to them—has never been greater,” says Jerry O’Flanagan, executive vice president, consumer banking, at First National Bank of Omaha. “The hardest part of saving? Getting started. However, once a savings plan is in place, they key is to regularly reevaluate and readjust your savings efforts for maximum impact.”

First National Bank of Omaha’s findings are based on an online survey of 1,000 adults.