According to a recent survey, most Americans don’t have enough money set aside for an emergency. In fact, more than 25 percent don’t have any money saved!
It’s recommended that you have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of expenses. Only 25 percent of Americans have that kind of cash set aside. The research was conducted by Bankrate.com.
“About 49% of Americans don’t even have enough money saved to cover three months of expenses — slightly worse than the 46% of Americans who reported having less than three months worth of savings last year.
And 28% don’t have any cushion whatsoever — up from 24% last year, according to the report, which was based on a survey of 1,000 adults.“ (Read the CNNMoney article.)
Those who have saved are predominantly older, wealthier Americans. For people aged 65 or older, 39 percent say they have at least six months of savings set aside. Fifteen percent say they have no savings at all.
It’s worse for younger Americans. For those between the ages of 18 – 29, a large chunk – 35 percent – say they have no savings at all. However, 63 percent say they could last for 3 months on their savings.
“The biggest barrier to saving is not being in the habit of saving,” senior financial analyst Greg McBride of Bankrate said. “By establishing that habit, even if an unplanned expense comes up and wipes out what you’ve accumulated, you’re only one paycheck away from restarting the saving process.”The report also demonstrated that families are saving more this year than they were during the last six years. In 2006, a similar report by Bankrate found that 61 percent of Americans didn’t have enough emergency money to last three months.
McBride recommends setting up a direct deposit account from your paycheck that funnels into an account dedicated just to savings each month. That way you’re never tempted to keep the money.
Interestingly, another report by Rasmussen Reports also showed that 43 percent of Americans will go at least a week without any hard cash on hand. They will instead use cards or checks.
A 2011 study found that people who use cash are more likely to think about a purchase’s cost while those who buy with a card tend to think more about the benefits of the purchase – and tend to pay more.
If you use cash, ask for a discount. Visa and Mastercard changed their rules in 2010, permitting merchants to cut prices for customers with legal tender. Some stores will knock off 2 or 3 percent, according to SmartCredit.com CEO John Ulzheimer.