America’s Problem With Saving

There Isn’t Enough of It

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BY GREG MCBRIDE

The personal-finance issue that generates the most heated arguments–and likely will for years to come–is about balancing limited household financial resources between living for today or saving for a rainy day. It isn’t just about one person being a spendthrift and the other being a grumpy tightwad, or an argument that arises only in tough times such as unemployment. Even in good times, or what we might think of as “normal” times, arguments may arise if one party–spouse, significant other, parent or adult child–has a feeling of financial unease while another is comparatively carefree or wants to let loose.

A recent Bankrate.com poll found that only a little more than half of Americans–52%–have more money in emergency savings than in credit-card debt. More troubling was the 21% who didn’t have either credit-card debt or emergency savings–meaning they are one unplanned expense away from high cost debt without any kind of safety net.

While Americans have been more cautious about piling on debt–particularly credit cards–since the Great Recession, there has been little in the way of progress on savings.

Americans are chronically undersaved for emergencies, with Bankrate.com finding just 22% of Americans have enough to cover at least six months’ of expenses and that 29% of Americans have no emergency savings whatsoever.

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