Survey: Americans Worry About Saving Money, But Don’t Use Savings Apps

Couple looking at the bills and planning their expenses.
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Americans aren’t too sure about this economy, and a new study is looking at why.

Sure, the stock market is up, and unemployment is down. That’s good stuff. We’ve come a long way since the Great Recession a decade ago.

On the other hand, people aren’t saving enough money.

A new national survey found that most Americans feel the American dream has changed — more than half now define financial success as simply not living paycheck-to-paycheck.

The study by PurePoint Financial, a division of California-based MUFG Union Bank, also found that many Americans aren’t preparing for the future, financially speaking:

  • Nearly half of Americans don’t have any money saved in a retirement account.
  • Although digital and mobile banking is becoming more widespread, Americans aren’t taking advantage of apps that can help them make smarter financial choices.

In fact, only 7% of Americans use savings apps, the study found. That’s the case even though there’s been an explosion of such apps in recent years.

For example, you can use an app called Acorns that will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and funnel your digital change into an investment account.

Similarly, a smartphone app called Stash will automatically pull small sums of money from your bank account and invest it in the stock market for you.

One of the most attractive things about these savings apps is they’re simple and easy to use.

“Sometimes in the face of uncertainty, people tend to freeze and not take any action at all,” says Pierre P. Habis, president of PurePoint Financial. “The best advice I can give people is to always plan for tomorrow by saving what you can, ideally at least 10% of your income. But even if you can’t put that much aside, set up a system to save a set amount each month.”

It’s Hard to Get Ahead These Days

PurePoint’s survey found a lot of uncertainty about the state of the economy.

Only one in four Americans think it’s easier to get ahead today than it was five years ago. Half don’t expect to feel better about their savings five years from now.

Purepoint found that 71% of people feel the American dream has changed, and 64% define financial success as not living check-to-check.

One bright spot: About 20% of those surveyed were “super savers” who routinely set aside large portions of their income for savings. They tended to be more optimistic about the future than other Americans.

Here at The Penny Hoarder, there’s one finding in the PurePoint Financial survey that really jumped out at us: Americans are more comfortable discussing religion and politics with their families than they are talking about finances.

  • While the vast majority of Americans (87%) think parents are responsible for teaching their children about saving, only half say their own parents taught them financial skills.
  • Nearly half of Americans (42%) said they ultimately rely on themselves to learn about financial matters as best they can.

This sounds familiar. No one ever taught us anything about money. We have to figure it out for ourselves.

That’s why we read websites like The Penny Hoarder.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s a big believer in the American dream.