LOS ANGELES (CBS) — It’s a tale of two countries when it comes to Americans preparing for a financial emergency.
A survey released Monday shows that while one-quarter of U.S. households have a six-month emergency fund, nearly the same number have no savings at all — a startling number in light of the estimated 6 million Americans that have been out of work for at least six months.
The survey conducted by Bankrate.com found that 46 percent of households have at least three months’ savings set aside, with higher-income households and people in their 50s and 60s the most likely to have an emergency fund.
Bankrate.com’s Greg McBride told KNX 1070 that even in today’s tough economic climate, there are always steps even the most cash-strapped can take to prepare for the future.
“Open up an online savings account, have money directly transferred from your checking account every month,” said McBride. “You have to automate this process.”
But despite a lack of backup cash, twenty-six percent of Americans said they are more comfortable with their debt now compared with a year ago, a sign that more households are clamping down on spending.
“You have to pay yourself first,” said McBride. “That not only accomplishes that saving, but it forces you to live on less than you make.”