This post explores the average UK savings by age groups. It also looks at the average amounts in UK pension accounts, and the average UK net worth by age.
I’ve included links to the source data, and included my own highlights below each chart.
All data is taken from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), and is accurate as of 2022.
For household data, I’ve omitted the 16-24 age group, as those under 25 had their data skewed by those living with parents, resulting in very high household wealth.
Pensions are a large part of our savings, so rather than go into the stats on average pension sizes here, I’ve written a more detailed post here: ‘Average pension pots [UK]‘.
- Average UK savings by age
- Employee pension contributions by age
- Employee pension contributions by employer type
- Employer pension contributions by employer type
- Average UK net worth by age
- UK household net worth by wealth type
- How long would you be able to make ends meet if you lost your main source of income?
- How would you find the money to meet an unexpected expense?
- How confident are you that your income in retirement will give you the standard of living you hope for?
Average UK savings by age
Source: ONS. Savings include the values of any financial assets held including both formal investments, such as bank or building society current or saving accounts, investment vehicles such as Individual Savings Accounts, endowments, stocks and shares, and informal savings. Net financial wealth relates to net financial wealth for the household. Therefore charts show individuals of any age living within households of this wealth.
Average UK savings by age:
- Amount required in savings to put you in the top 25% of your age group:
- 25-34: Over £12,500
- 25-44: Over £25,000
- 45-54: Over £50,000
- 55+: Over £100,000
- And the top 10%:
- 25-34: Over £50,000
- 35+: Over £100,000
- Looking at indebtedness, 38% of 25-34 year olds are in debt, with 23% of that age group having over £5,000 in debt (likely the result of student loans).
- At least 25% of those under 54 (dependent on age group) either have no savings, or are in debt.
- If you’d like a tool to help increase your savings rate, you can download the same finances tracking spreadsheet I use myself – for free. It’ll figure out your savings rate, spending rate, investment performance, and net worth. Click here to see it in action.
Employee pension contributions by age
- Over 50% of employees across all age groups contribute between 3% and 5%.
- Contributing over 7% to your pension would put you in at least the top 14% of your age group.
- If you’d like to see what the average UK pension size is, have a look at this post, which looks at the stats behind how much us Brits have in our pensions: ‘Average pension pots [UK]‘
Employee pension contributions by employer type
Employer pension contributions by employer type
- Looking at the public sector, the majority (51%) of public sector employees contribute over 7% to their pension scheme. Having known many people in government roles, the matching up to 7%ish is extremely generous, so this isn’t too surprising.
- On the employer side, most public sector employers contribute over 5%, with 15% contributing over 7%.
- Looking at the private sector, the numbers aren’t as rosy. About 50% of private sector employees contribute less than 4% to their pension.
- From the employer’s side, over 54% of private sector employers contribute between 1% and 2% – a tiny amount when compared to the public sector. For those of us with employers contributing 5% or more, that puts our employers in the top 7% of all private sector companies.
UK household net worth by age
Source: ONS. Total wealth is the sum of the four components of wealth and is therefore net of all liabilities: Property, financial, physical, private pension.
Average UK net worth by age:
- 25-34: Between £85,000 and £200,000
- 35-44: Between £200,000 and £300,000
- 45-54: Between £300,000 and £500,000
- 55-64: Between £500,000 and £1,000,000
- 65+: Between £500,000 and £1,000,000
- Net worth required to put you in the top 25% of your age group:
- 25-34: Over £300,000
- 35-54: Over £500,000
- 55+: Over £1,000,000
- And the top 10%:
- 25-44: Over £500,000
- 45+: Over £1,000,000
- 59% of those over 55 have a household net worth of over £500,000, which suggests most people approaching retirement have much of their wealth in assets other than pensions, given the relatively low pension sizes for those in the same age group.
- If you’d like a hand figuring out your net worth (or keeping track of it), my finances tracker will calculate your savings rate, spending rate, investment performance, and net worth.
UK household net worth by wealth type
- Annoyingly this statistic isn’t broken down by age, but it’s interesting to see that property makes up roughly the same percentage of a UK household’s net worth as pension wealth.
- Given the relatively low pension sizes shown in the stats, it looks like many people are relying heavily on property to help fund retirement.
- Financial wealth includes savings in ISAs, and is a surprisingly small proportion of overall wealth. For those who are interested in how to become an ISA millionaire without ever maxing out your ISA, see: ‘Who wants to be an ISA millionaire?‘.
How long would you be able to make ends meet if you lost your main source of income?
- Contrary to most of the negative news around the savings/retirement crisis, I was surprised at how long most households could last after losing their main sources of income.
- Again, this isn’t broken down by age, so is likely skewed by the older age groups with higher levels of savings.
How would you find the money to meet an unexpected expense?
Source: ONS. A major expense is defined as an expense equivalent to your whole income for a month or more.
- 65% of households could pay for an unexpected major expense out of their savings or investments. Again, this sounded encouragingly high, but is likely skewed by age.
- Having said that, 21% of people (over one in five) would have to borrow, sell something off, or simply couldn’t come up with the money if faced with an expense equal to one month’s income. That’s still a worryingly high number.
- For those looking to start investing, setting up an emergency fund is step number 3 on the things you’ll need to do before you start. This post, ‘Am I ready to invest‘ walks investors through 7 steps to take before getting started with investing.
How confident are you that your income for retirement will give you the standard of living you hope for?
- It’s a roughly equal split (45%/55%) between those who are fairly confident and above, versus those who are not very confident or not confident at all.
- Again, it’s annoying this isn’t broken down by age, as it’s likely many of the ‘not very confidents’ are from younger investors who aren’t sure what the future value of their pension/savings is going to look like.
- Still, having almost half of households not being confident in their ability to meet their desired standard of living in retirement isn’t a great state of affairs. If you’re one of those people sitting in the ‘Not very confident’ or ‘Not confident at all’ camps, then the fact you’re on this site shows you’re moving in the right direction. I’ve included links in the conclusion below which should help you on your way to maximising your investments for retirement.
- Overall, the statistics on saving and investment in the UK are mixed.
- The average savings for UK investors I thought looked surprisingly low, with a high percentage of people, especially in the younger age brackets, either in debt or with no savings.
- The contributions by employees towards their pensions also seemed low. I imagine the majority of people only contribute the minimum required to take advantage of the employer match (usually 3-5%), but still the percentage seemed low given how tax efficient pensions are as a savings vehicle.
- However, the stats on average UK net worth by age were more encouraging. The stats showed that households held high proportions of their wealth in non-pension/savings accounts, such as property. 58% of those over 55 have a household net worth of over £500,000.
- Also encouraging were the responses to the questions around how long households could cope after losing their main source of income, and how they would deal with an unexpected major expense.
An obvious point, but still one worth making, is that personal finances are just that – personal. How much you should have saved, or invested, or in net worth is completely dependent on your own circumstances and goals.
Someone intending to retire at 35 and spend their retirement cruising the world on their superyacht, sipping Dom Pérignon and eating meals prepared by their personal chef is going to need a savings pot resembling Scrooge McDuck’s hoard of gold. As a result, that shouldn’t be the benchmark for someone intending to retire in their late 50s, who wants to travel occasionally, take up a hobby, and spend time with the grandkids.
The average UK savings by age is an interesting statistic to think about, but ultimately everyone’s financial situation is different. There’s little point comparing your own financial situation against the average – nobody has an average situation.
Having said that, the fact you’re reading this blog means you’re highly likely to be in a better financial position than most, given that an interest in investing puts you ahead of 99% of the population.
For those looking to improve their financial situation, and who want to learn more about investing, this section on The Basics might prove to be a useful starting point. It covers topics including Am I ready to invest?, How much do I need to start investing?, and How do I invest?.
If you feel like you already know the basics, but are wondering what you should be investing in, this post ‘The best Vanguard index tracker funds for UK investors‘ is by far the most popular post on this site. It walks you through the various Vanguard equity funds on offer, and provides my opinion on the best options. Its sister post ‘The best Vanguard bond funds for UK investors‘ does the same thing for Vanguard’s bond funds.