Survey: Americans aren’t saving enough money

Helping children learn about money should include teaching them that money is not just spent. (Courtesy of Money Savvy Generation)

WASHINGTON — No one is immune to emergencies, which can often be costly — and a new survey shows that more than a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings in the bank.

About 26 percent of Americans have no emergency savings, according a new Bankrate.com survey. Also, 67 percent said they have less than the recommended six months’ worth of savings, and 50 percent said they have saved less than three months’ expenses.

The survey, released Monday, interviewed more than 1,000 adults living in the continental U.S. in June about their personal finances.

“Americans continue to show a stunning lack of progress in accumulating sufficient emergency savings,” Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst, said in a news release.

“Even among the highest-income households — those with annual income of $75,000 or above — fewer than half (46 percent) currently have a six-month savings cushion.”

People between ages 30 and 49 are more likely than any other age group to have no emergency savings, according to the survey. Participants between 18 and 30 are the most likely to have up to five months’ expenses saved up.

“Many of those under age 30 have the benefit of lower expenses due to roommates, living with their parents or being students. Ages 30 through 49 are high-spending years when expenses often rise faster than emergency savings can keep up,” McBride said.

The survey found 36 percent of people with a high school education or less said they had no emergency savings, while 10 percent of college graduates had no emergency savings.

Financials experts offered some tips to help save for a rainy day.

  • Set small goals. Financial coach and founder of Sage Financial Solutions in San Francisco, Saundra Davis said to Bankrate.com that a 52-week savings plan may help people set small goals. In the plan, the consumer starts by saving $1 on the first week, $2 the second week, $3 the third week and so on.
  • Make it automatic. Setting up an automatic deduction that goes straight into an emergency savings account can help people avoid spending what would have gone into their checking accounts, says Tom McGuigan, a financial adviser with Exencial Wealth Advisors in Old Lyme, Connecticut.
  • Be realistic. People should think about how much cash they’d need to put aside to feel secure — and then set a goal based on that amount, McGuigan says.
  • Save some bills. Davis says she suggests not spending $5 bills and instead putting all of those bills directly into emergency savings.

The Bankrate.com survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

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