Average Checking Account Balance in the U.S.
According to data from the 2016 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), the average checking account balance rings in at around $10,545, up from $9,132 in 2013 and $7,036 in 2010. The survey is conducted every three years and takes about a year to crunch the data and publish the results.
How Income Impacts Checking Account Funds
Of course, the number in your checking account is also affected by your income bracket. In short, higher earners tend to have higher checking account balances, while lower earners have less in their checking accounts. This could be due to higher earners having more disposable income, therefore, higher balances. Or, it could be attributed to the fact that as your income grows, so does your cost of living.
Those who made less than $25,000 annually kept an average of $2,018 in their checking accounts in 2016, the survey found, while those who made between $25,000-$44,999 had an average balance of $4,303, and those who made $45,000-$69,999 had an average balance of $6,492.
According to the survey, Americans’ checking account balances tend to grow along with their income. For example, those who pulled in $160,000 or more in 2016 had an average checking account balance of $42,253, more than 20 times that of the lower earners.
Age also makes a difference. The under 35-set had an average of $4,013 in their checking accounts in 2016, while the accounts of those aged 35-44 more than doubled that, at $9,593. The oldest group surveyed (75-plus) had an average balance of $15,803. Worth noting: this was just marginally more than the 65-74 set, with an average balance of $15,752.
So How Much Should I Have in Checking?
The not-so-short answer is: It really depends. While most experts recommend having at least enough in your checking account to cover a month’s bills, that amount can vary, depending on your lifestyle and financial obligations.
For example, if you are single with no dependents, don’t own a car, and have little debt, you may get away with having less in checking since you won’t have to worry about paying for a costly home or car repairs, or the various costs associated with raising a child.
However, if you own your own home, are the primary earner in your family, or have children, you may need more cash in your checking account to support your lifestyle.
As an aside, it’s also a good idea to have an emergency fund of at least three to six months of living expenses, including bills, living expenses, and any debts, so that you’re covered in the case of an unexpected job loss or illness. This fund should also be kept in a separate account (usually a savings account) than from your everyday spending account.
However, you may choose to keep only one month’s expenses in a savings account, and the rest in a high-interest savings account or a Certificate of Deposit (CD). After all, if you keep your money in a basic savings account for the long-term, you will eventually lose money, thanks to inflation.
Be sure to talk with your financial advisor to figure out the strategy that’s best for you.
How to Grow Your Checking Account
If your checking account balance nowhere near this amount? Don’t panic. Here are some strategies to boost your balance.
- Search for a higher-paying job if your current salary doesn’t cover all your bills, debt payments, and living expenses. You could also consider going back to school and earning a new, more lucrative degree.
- Formulate a monthly spending budget and stick to it. Adhering to a budget is one of the best financial moves you can make.
- Consider cutting unnecessary subscriptions. Think cable, subscription clothing boxes, even magazines you no longer read.
- Sell items you own that you no longer use, such as furniture, art, designer clothing, even kitchen appliances on a resale site like Craigslist.