How does your emergency fund look?
Is it just a bunch of coins clinking around in the bottom of an old jelly jar?
Yikes. But you can take some comfort in knowing there are more people in the jelly-jar club than you might expect.
We know most Americans don’t have enough savings to handle a financial emergency.
But no savings at all? It’s scary. And it’s real.
Almost One-Third of Americans Have Zero Savings
Twenty-eight percent of Americans have no emergency savings, according to Bankrate’s Financial Security Index survey of 1,000 people in early June.
By comparing that random sample to the number of adults on the last U.S. census (235 million), Bankrate calculates 66 million people have no backup plan.
On the fortunate flipside, the survey also showed 28% of respondents claimed six months’ expenses (or more!) saved for emergencies. In the middle, 34% of those surveyed had some emergency savings, but not enough to cover six months of expenses.
Bankrate’s Claes Bell noted respondents earning less than $30,000 per year were eight times more likely to admit they had no savings than those with incomes of $75,000 or more.
But Americans may be realizing it’s time to start knitting their own financial safety nets.
“The percentage who say they have enough emergency savings to cover six months’ worth of expenses or more is the highest it’s ever been in the six years Bankrate has polled Americans on the question,” Bell said.
Start Small, Save Big
Does six months worth of expenses seem like an unattainable amount to save? Start small and build your emergency savings without sacrificing too much.
“Any cushion, even if it’s just $1,000, is better than no cushion at all,” Penny Hoarder staff writer Jamie Cattanach advises.
Even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you can make strides toward stashing away cash for unexpected expenses.
Here’s a month-by-month guide to help you sock away $1,000 — even if you don’t have a lot of money to spare. Plus, some of these strategies even help you earn money you can then sock away.
One last tip: Automate your savings to make it into a routine. If you can’t remember where you spent that fiver you had tucked into your pocket yesterday (if you’re like me, probably at the coffee shop), you won’t miss the $5 going into your savings account on a set schedule.
Your Turn: What steps have you taken to build or maintain an emergency fund?
Lisa Rowan is a writer, editor and podcaster living in Washington, D.C. Her emergency fund isn’t sexy, but she’s glad it’s there.