How Your Personal Finance Compares To the Average American

Personal finance relates to your budget, financial goals and income all of which are unique to you. However there are some similarities in relation to Americans’ bank accounts and these can provide an idea of how U.S. citizens use and save their money.

A study that was undertaken by the U.S. Census Bureau’s U.S. and World Population Clockstates that the population residing in America is over 300 million and this is a figure that is growing by the second, meaning that there is a birth every 8 seconds. With the available data, GOBankingRates were able to put together a blueprint of what the typical spending, debt and savings account of an American looked like.

Elderly couple

Overview of the Average American’s Finances

Prior to looking at the actual figures it is necessary to understand what can be defined as the “typical average American”. The latest U.S. Census conducted in 2010 showed that the non-Hispanic white population was still the largest race demographic in the country, with about 72.4% of Americans identifying with this group. Females outnumbered males 50.9% to 49.1% and with a current median age of 37.2 years old.

Using this data, the company known as GOBankingRates uses Mary Smith as their example, Mary being the most common first name and Smith the most common surname in the whole of America and Mary Smith became the hypothetical subject for its report.

Mary Smith, a 37-year-old non-Hispanic white woman residing in New York, the most populated city in the United States. Mary works as a retail salesperson (the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that some 4,340,000 other Americans work as salespeople).

This is a snapshot of Mary’s personal finance:


Mary will earn a median income of $40,728 as a salesperson, according to, compared to the U.S. median income of $52,762. Due to Mary’s modest income and the cost of living estimated at $26,521 plus the states unemployment rate at 6.6% in June 2014, it is paramount that Mary has an emergency savings fund for her future.


There could be many things delaying Mary’s saving progress including various credit and debt balances. The average credit card debt per household is $15,263 as calculated by Nerdwallet and the average credit card charging 14.95% APR as advised by Mary has a multitude of things to take care of before she can start saving. This reality is that this figure is likely to be worse when all of the other debt factors are added, such as the average $147,591 mortgage debt, over $30,000 student loans and an average auto loan of just over $30,000 when accumulated this leaves Mary with a steadily growing debt of $225,238.


Savings relates to all aspects of saving money, whether an emergency fund, retirement account or personal finance for travelling. This still means that American citizens like Mary will struggle to save enough to meet saving goals. The finance company Credit Donkey, reported that only 59% Americans have over $500 saved to use in case of emergency, which leaves Mary with very little to fall back on should she suddenly be hit with an unexpected expense.

Influences of this Financial Profile?

Some of the data that was used to compile this profile came from data gathered by the Census prior to 2010, Americans’ finances are still dictated by the state of the economy. Unemployment in the U.S dropped by 4.8% from October 2009 to July 2014, just about meeting the 6% target. Private companies have added over 170,000 jobs in August and temporary jobs rather than full time are currently fashionable with a growth of 6.7% in 2013 compared to 2012. Employers are still wary of taking on permanent workforce due to the regulations such as the Affordable Care Act, which sees companies having to provide health insurance coverage if they have 50 or more full-time employees.

This all proves that when Americans have an undetermined and uncertain source of income, being able to save money is a real challenge and there is a definite need to turn to new and or existing lines of credit as these can be the only way that the people can keep their standard of living until the economy picks up, whereby the personal finance of individuals such as Mary should see a lift.