Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn how we make money.
How would you spend your savings?
Almost 4 in 10 Americans pick home ownership.
Building a nest egg is not easy. In fact, in 2019 the median household savings account had $4,830 in it.It’s little wonder then that if parting with their hard-earned cash, a top priority for 37% of American adults is putting a down payment on a home, according to a survey conducted by Finder.
The next most common reason to dig into savings is to pay down debt, with 18.70% saying they’d use savings toward a credit card balance. Rounding out the top three reasons is buying a car, with 16.09% saying the purchase of a car is good use of savings.
What’s not high on the priority list right now? Unsurprisingly, it’s travel, with only 3.60% of Americans saying they’d use their savings for a vacation. Also low on the list is a dream wedding, with only 4.24% of Americans saying nuptials are worth an account withdrawal.
|Types of spending||Most popular ways to spend savings|
|Down payment for a home||36.88%|
|Credit card debt||18.70%|
|Buying a new car||16.09%|
|Student loan debt||7.90%|
Women more likely than men to reach into savings for a down payment
Men and women agree on the top three reasons to dig into a savings account, though the order of priorities and their degree of value shifts between the genders.
Both genders say putting a down payment on a home is their preference for spending their savings, with 38.76% of women choosing it as the top reason versus 34.71% of men. Paying off a credit card is second priority for men at 22.72% but third priority for women at 15.20%, and buying a car the second most common choice for women (15.64%) but the third most likely choice for men (16.60%).
Bucking a long-held gender stereotype, men are more likely than women shell out their savings on a dream wedding, with 4.00% of men saying it’s a top priority versus 3.58% of women — making it the lowest priority for women. Travel is lowest on the list for men, with only 3.00% willing to splurge on a trip.
|Types of spending||Men||Women|
|Down payment for a home||34.71%||38.76%|
|Credit card debt||22.72%||15.20%|
|Buying a new car||16.60%||15.64%|
|Student loan debt||6.37%||9.23%|
Down payment on a home a top priority, no matter your age
When looking across age groups, buying a home is the No. 1 reason to dig into a savings account, the group most likely to do so between the ages of 35 and 44 (43.79%).
People ages 45 to 54 are most likely to dip into their savings to pay down credit card debt (20.71%), with ages 25 to 34 most likely to pay down student loan debt (12.83%) and ages 18 to 24 most likely to pay for a dream wedding (6.76%) with their savings.
The over-65 crowd is the group most likely to use their savings to buy a new car (24.73%), pay off medical debt (6.71%) or travel (5.30%).
|Age group||Down payment for a home||Credit card debt||Buying a new car||Student loan debt||Medical debt||Dream wedding||Travel||Other|
Region priorities: Same, but different
Whether you’re from Midwest, Northeast, South or West, the top reason for taking money out of savings is for a down payment on a home, with those in the South most likely to do so at 37.89%. Southerners are also most likely to use their savings to buy a new car at 17.13% and pay down medical debt at 6.59%.
The Northeast is home to the highest percentage of those who’d spend their nest egg on credit card debt (22.86%). The Northeast also takes the top spot for dream wedding, with 6.86% saying it’s where they’d invest.
The West is the region most likely to put savings towards student loan debt (8.59%).
|Types of spending||Northeast||Midwest||South||West|
|Down payment for a home||36.57%||36.33%||37.89%||36.20%|
|Credit card debt||22.86%||19.24%||16.47%||19.53%|
|Buying a new car||11.43%||17.09%||17.13%||15.10%|
|Student loan debt||7.43%||8.09%||7.41%||8.59%|
Our data is based on an online survey of 2,001 US adults at least 18 years old commissioned by Finder and conducted by Google Surveys on August 11 and August 12, 2020. Participants were users on websites in the Google Surveys Publisher Network and were unpaid.
We assume the participants in our surveys represent the US population of 255.2 million Americans who are at least 18 years old according to the July 2019 US Census Bureau population estimate. This assumption is made at the 95% confidence level with a 2.19% margin of error.
Our survey asked respondents what they’d rather spend their savings on from seven selections:
- Down payment for a home
- Credit card debt
- Buying a new car
- Student loan debt
- Dream wedding
- Medical debt
The most common write-in response for “Other” was travel and vacation, which accounted for 30.2% of all “Other” responses. We refer to this as “Travel” in our analysis, and recalculated “Other” to exclude responses about travel and vacation.
We define geographical regions as defined by the US Census Bureau.
For media inquiries:
More guides on Finder
Processing fees and campaigns: How much are Americans spending?
Finder uncovers how much Americans are spending on payment processing fees for political campaign donations, who pays the fees and which companies are benefiting the most.
When will Americans start traveling after coronavirus?
Finder surveyed 2,004 Americans ages 18 and older to find who squashed the travel bug and who just can’t wait to crawl out of their homes to start traveling after the coronavirus.
Should you use your stimulus check to buy life insurance?
Finder asked 11 experts to share their advice on whether it’s a good idea to buy a life insurance policy with your stimulus check.
How COVID-19 is impacting America’s financial decisions
Putting money into savings and divesting shares are just two financial moves Americans are planning to make in the coming months. See what else America is doing with its finances.
New Year’s resolution statistics
A recent Finder survey reveals that 72.4 million adult Americans — or 44.2% of all Americans — think that following through on their New Year’s resolutions is well within the cards.
Retirement funding: How much do you need to save?
More than 40% of Americans say they’d need to sock away some $340K+ for postwork life. And not many of us are on track.
Savings account statistics
Find out how well average Americans add to their savings accounts and dig into key differences by gender, generation, state and more.
The cost of convenience
According to the latest research from finder.com, Americans spend about $750 billion on such convenience services as delivery, driving, handiwork, pet needs and subscription boxes.
Spending money to spite your face?
104 million Americans spend $29.1 billion to avoid embarrassment.
How to create a savings plan
Working out a realistic savings plan is the best way to achieve your financial goals. Here’s how you can create a budget and savings plan to meet your needs.
Ask an Expert