You'd Be Surprised Americans Save This Little Each Year

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Americans are notoriously terrible savers and typically save less than 5% of their disposable personal income each year.

The American consumer is woefully lacking in saving for both emergencies and their retirement.

A survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that Americans would rather stay debt-ridden and often put their physical appearance ahead of their financial state. A whopping 72% of Americans would rather keep their current debt than gain 25 pounds and be completely debt free. The June 2013 survey was conducted online among 2,021 Americans ages 18 and older.

Nearly two-thirds of adults (64%) think about their physical appearance more than their debt. 68% of women were more likely to agree with this statement than men (61%). The survey also revealed that 70% care more about their physical health than their financial health.

"We've become somewhat of a country of excess and the ability to borrow has been so cheap and easy," said Ken Lin, founder and CEO of Credit Karma, a San Francisco-based financial management site which tracks consumers' debt and assets and compares it to others. "The abundance of credit in the U.S. has given consumers a lot of reasons to spend instead of saving. Our spending behavior is very much keeping up with the Joneses. You really need to have a lot of self discipline."

Most Americans wait too long to start saving for retirement, said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for

"Americans like their stuff," he said. "It is a lot of materialism."

The household savings rate 30 to 40 years ago was 10% compared to 4% now.

"People don't save enough," McBride said. "Savings is unfortunately not the priority that it used to be."