No emergency savings? Many feel comfortable anyway

A new survey finds that while many Americans don't have enough money saved for emergencies, many people in that boat don't seem too concerned. (Getty Images/Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — Report after report drives home the message that many Americans don’t have enough money saved for emergencies, but a new survey finds some in that boat don’t seem too concerned.

It also found lower income households may be doing a better job than higher income households in stashing away emergency funds.

Bankrate.com found 47 percent of American consumers it surveyed have some emergency savings, but only enough to cover less than three months worth of expenses.

Still, many said they are “somewhat comfortable” or “very comfortable” with their savings amount.

A surprising 18 percent of respondents with absolutely no emergency savings at all said they also feel somewhat or very comfortable.

The survey also found that 18 percent have enough to cover three to five months of expenses, 22 percent have enough to cover less than three months and just 29 percent have enough emergency savings to cover the recommended six months of expenses or more.

“Many Americans are kidding themselves if they have less than three months’ worth of expenses in emergency savings and claim to have any level of comfort with that,” said Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride.

“The goal should be to have enough emergency savings to cover six months’ expenses — and anything less than that should cause discomfort.”

Bankrate also said households with lower income and educational attainment are more likely to have no emergency savings, but 27 percent of the lowest income households have managed to accumulate enough savings to cover at least three months’ expenses, underscoring the fact that diligent saving is not purely a function of income.

Case in point, one-in-four of the highest income households either have no emergency savings or only enough to cover less than three months’ expenses.

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