PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Saving up for emergencies is a necessity, but isn’t always easy to do.
Inflation and economic uncertainty continue to make saving money difficult for most Americans, according to a survey conducted by Bankrate.
The survey results reveal that only 48% of Americans have enough emergency savings to cover three months’ worth of expenses, which is what most experts recommend.
In addition, 57% of adults are uncomfortable with the amount of emergency savings they currently have.
“The economic gyrations over the past four years have underscored the importance of having emergency savings, with an increasing share of Americans thinking it will take a bigger savings cushion to feel comfortable with it,” Bankrate’s Greg McBride said.
Bankrate noted that 22% of adults don’t have any emergency savings, which is the second-lowest percentage in the survey’s 13-year history.
It appears to be a sign of the times. The survey noted that 74% of adults are saving less due to economic factors in their lives, such as inflation (68%), rising interest rates (48%) and changes to income or employment status (44%).
McBride said building savings takes time. He recommends adults automate contributing to their savings accounts as much as possible.
“Successful saving is all about the habit,” he explained. “Regular contributions such as a direct deposit from your paycheck or an automatic monthly transfer into an online savings account lead to a higher level of emergency savings and greater comfort level with it.”
The survey results also reveal that 36% of adults have more credit card debt than emergency savings, which Bankrate referred to as a record high. In addition, roughly 25% of adults said they would pay for emergency expenses by credit card.
“With 1-in-4 Americans telling us they’d react to a large emergency expense by using a credit card, their timing couldn’t be worse,” Bankrate’s Mark Hamrick said. “On average, credit card interest rates are the highest we’ve seen and are slated to go higher as the Federal Reserve continues to hike. Under the best of circumstances, this debt should be paid before costly interest charges hit the account.”
Bankrate provided the following tips for rebuilding an emergency fund:
- Figure out how much you need in emergency savings. Experts recommend saving up three to six months worth of expenses in case of an emergency if possible.
- Open a savings account just for emergencies. Stashing emergency funds safely and separately will allow for quick access when it’s needed.
- Make a budget around savings. Set money aside regularly and stick to good spending habits.