The average household’s savings rate increased to 5.5 percent in 2014, up from 4.6 percent in 2013, according to recent research from Hearts & Wallets.
“The increasing savings rate is good news, but averages can be misleading,” said Laura Varas, Hearts & Wallets partner and co-founder. “People with less assets are struggling. It’s impossible to ‘save for retirement’ without first getting out from under debt.”
Households with less than $100,000 in investable assets saved less than 5 percent in 2014. Higher-net-worth households, those with over $500,000 in assets, saved more than 10 percent, according to the study.
The study found that 65 percent of less affluent households have non-mortgage debt, an increase from 60 percent the previous year.
According to the consumer financial research organization, online planning tools can boost savings rates. The study found that respondents who used calculators in 2014 had a mean savings of nearly $6,700 compared with about $3,800 for those who did not use calculators.
Consumers may benefit from a combination of online tools and human advisors, said Varas, since some online calculators lack the ability to include Social Security, long-term care or other important “what if” planning scenarios. According to the study, nearly 40 percent of consumers used both financial professionals and online tools as sources of investment information in 2014.