Two recent major studies cast a dark shadow across what generally has been a sunny outlook on the strengthening economy.
According to a study by Bankrate.com, approximately 30 percent of Americans have little or no personal emergency savings. Additionally, almost 20 percent of U.S. households have less than three months’ worth of savings. Combined, this equates to half of Americans who simply do not have enough cash on hand to avert a crisis, let alone find enough cash to replace a major appliance or fix their vehicles without incurring more high-rate credit card debt. This is the highest level of unpreparedness in the last five years, according to Bankrate.com, and the likely culprit is slow income growth, despite the increasing stock market.
In an unrelated study by the AICPA, more than 50 percent of U.S. adults surveyed are putting off milestone life goals such as buying a house, pursuing additional higher education or retiring. The percentage is a sharp increase from a similar study conducted in 2007, in which 31 percent of respondents were delaying milestone events. When asked why major decisions were placed on the back burner, 60 percent of respondents said a lack of savings. Other concerns included the economy, difficulty paying medical and nonmortgage bills, and taking care of elderly parents and relatives.