1. Redux: About Half Have 3 Months’ Expenses Saved

    We just keep coming back to the same dismal stats on savings, over and over again. This time, the 2014 Scorecard from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) informs us that, among other tidbits, 44 percent of us have less than three months’ worth of savings tucked away.

    CFED: 2014 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard

    The figures aren’t far off from those released in June of 2013 in a similar report from U.S. News. We hit the same savings ballpark in an Allstate survey, too.

    From a summary article:

    Nearly half (44%) of households in the United States are “liquid asset poor,” meaning they have less than three months’ worth of savings — conservatively measured as $5,887 for a family of four, or three times monthly income at the poverty level.

    I’m not sure what world these folks live in, but $5,887 doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to a reasonable measurement for a three-month cushion for a family of four. Which suggests to me that the figures are, in fact, really worse than what’s reported here.

    CFED also says that one quarter (25%) of middle class households (those earning $56,113 to $91,356 annually) have less than three months of savings. In a related note, they divulge, about 56 percent of us have subprime credit scores. Also, in 2012, the average college debt level for graduates was $29,400.

    You can grab a PDF copy of the 2014 report — chock full of fancy graphs, graphics, and (of course) admonitions for government-policy intervention — right here.




     

     

  2. Less Than Half Have 3 Months’ Expenses Saved

    Fresh off the press, a couple of articles emphasizing Americans’ strong penchant for saving precisely squat:

    US News: More Than 1/4 Have No E-Fund

    And a related article:

    Bankrate: Short on Savings, Americans Still Feeling Positive

    No surprises here for followers of this blog: When you punish people for saving, you’re going to get less saving. When you reward people for blowing through every penny that hits the door, and then some, you’re going to have a nation of broke people.

    But hey — as Bankrate tells us, “Americans are feeling very secure about their personal finances.” This, even though “… nearly half of those surveyed have less than three months’ worth of expenses, or nothing at all, in emergency savings.”

    I’m not sure what sort of “security” these folks are aiming for, but it’s apparently one I’ve always tried to avoid.




     

     

  3. Get More Retirement Savings, Cuz Congress Wants It

    Couple of saving-related news stories which hit my inbox this afternoon:

    EBRI: 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey Results

    EBRI’s 2013 survey tells us that half of workers reported having $25k or less in total savings and investments (not counting home equity and any defined-benefit plans). Twenty-eight percent have less than $1,000.

    FA Mag: Congress May Act to Stem Outflows from 401k Plans

    That’s right, America: Not only do you not have jack squat in your retirement plan accounts, but what you do have, isn’t really yours, and won’t be until Congress says it’s okay for you to have it.

    Carry on.




     

     

  4. Half Living Paycheck to Paycheck

    Fresh new survey data from Allstate’s “Life Tracks” unit suggests that about half of Americans have nothing left over after paying for essentials:

    Allstate: Americans Struggle to Save Despite Optimism

    I find it interesting that this “half of us live paycheck-to-paycheck” stat keeps reappearing in survey after survey in recent years. I’m thinking the figures are pretty valid, at this point.

    In the Allstate survey, conducted in December of 2012, 32 percent of college grads reported living paycheck-to-paycheck, while 48 percent of non-graduates reported the same.

    For those curious about credit-card debt, there were some interesting nuggets in that arena, too. From the article:

    • Forty-nine percent say they pay credit card debt; 43 percent mortgage payments; 36 percent car payments; 17 percent student loan payments; and 15 percent medical debts.
    • Among the half (51 percent) of Americans expecting a tax return, 45 percent intend to pay off debt with the money.
    • Sixty-five percent of Americans with credit card debt say their level of debt has increased or remained the same in the past year.
    • While a majority say their savings remains about the same (about 60 percent) in the past year, just 15 percent of Americans say their short-term emergency savings has increased, and 14 percent say their long-term savings and investment activity has increased.

    The fact that 65 percent said their debt levels have stayed the same or increased in the last year isn’t a surprise, given that 40 percent of respondents were “very confident about their ability to pay for a new car.” (That was in the survey, too.)

    What’s implied, of course, is that they’re confident in their ability to borrow for a new car.

    Debt, after all, makes the world go ’round.




     

     

  5. Survey: Retirement, Medical Costs Concern Americans

    Some meaty survey goodness from late last year:

    Harris Interactive: Americans Worry About Retirement, Health Care

    According to this Harris poll from late 2012, 74 percent of not-yet-retired folks are worried about having enough money to retire (I worry along with them, by the way), and 71 percent of us worry about being able to afford health-care expenses.

    To which I say: What’s the problem? ObamaCare solved all this! Duh! [/sarcasm]

    It’s also noteworthy that 47 percent of respondents said they live paycheck-to-paycheck, and thus are wholly unable to save. Of age group 18 to 47, 53 percent said that paycheck-to-paycheck was a way of life. (This data suggests an economic situation that’s a bit worse than that reported by CareerBuilder, whose 2011 survey found that 42 percent considered themselves to be living paycheck-to-paycheck.)




     

     

  6. Survey: People Have No Savings

    No surprise here, I guess: A survey by credit-comparison website CreditDonkey found that 41 percent of respondents have less than $500 of savings at any given time.

    CreditDonkey.com: Nearly Half Have No Emergency Savings

    The site surveyed 1,100 folks. Of that, 41 percent said they have less than $500 in emergency funds or other liquid savings. These findings aren’t far off from a similar study done by the Wall Street Journal back in 2011, which reported that half of us couldn’t come up with $2,000 within a few weeks if necessary.

    From the CreditDonkey article:

    It’s not what you may think: This 41% is made up not only of people living at or below the poverty line. They are also dual-income earners with nice homes, nice cars, nice toys, a 401K retirement savings plan, big mortgages. and big credit card bills. But if they ever get into a bind and need some quick cash – say, because of a car breakdown or an unexpected doctor visit – they don’t have it.

    What’d they expect? Everywhere we turn, the Powers That Be instruct us to “Spend it all,” lest we get left behind our neighbors who are already doing their part by living entirely for today. And that’s regardless of income level. The good news is that our government and all related entities are working diligently to make sure everything we need (food, energy, education, and all that) gets cheaper by the day. (You believe that, right?)

    Ah, no matter. We’ll just worry about the future when it gets here.




     

     

  7. Nope, No Savings Here. Or Here. Or There.

    From DSNews we get this encouraging tidbit:

    DSNews: Job Loss Would Make 1 in 3 Homeless

    And by “encouraging,” I mean that the last thirty years of insane financialization and ridiculous consumption is making itself evident everywhere you turn. While the use of “homeless” in the article is a touch misleading, it still paints a pretty yucky picture:

    One in three Americans would be unable to make their mortgage or rent payment beyond one month if they lost their job, according to the results of a national survey taken in mid-September.

    Despite being more affluent, the poll found that even those with higher annual household incomes indicate they are not guaranteed to make their next housing payment if they lost their source of income. Ten percent of survey respondents earning $100K or more a year say they would immediately miss a payment.

    And this:

    Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said if they were handed a pink slip, they would not be able to continue to make their mortgage or rent payment longer than five months.

    Chalk this up to too many folks borrowing for (or against) homes they couldn’t really afford, and it logically follows that these same households couldn’t build up savings even if they wanted to do so. Throw a dead-weight economy on top of it, and you have the makings of a mighty tenuous situation for a lot of Americans.




     

     

  8. More Financial Insecurity

    Bankrate’s August 2011 Financial Security Index is out — and people are not, apparently, feeling quite so secure. Go figure.

    Bankrate: August Financial Security Index

    I always enjoy seeing how people feel about their savings (or lack thereof), and according to Bankrate, 47 percent of Americans say they are less comfortable with their savings than a year ago. You have to think that teetering stock markets play a large role here; couple that with all the other negative news items which have driven headlines lately, and you have a recipe for a consumer-based economy Rut Ro.

    With similar surveys indicating that 42 percent of us live paycheck-to-paycheck, and half of us would have difficulty coming up with $2,000 in a pinch … well, no surprises here.




     

     

  9. CareerBuilder: 42% Live Paycheck to Paycheck

    This year’s CareerBuilder financial survey is out, and the headline ain’t really a shocker: 42 percent of workers report living paycheck-to-paycheck.

    CareerBuilder: 2011 Financial Survey

    And, of workers who make six figures, CareerBuilder found that 14 percent reported living paycheck to paycheck, and 6 percent reported that they were unable to make ends meet every month.

    CareerBuilder also asked the roughly 5,200 workers surveyed what they would or wouldn’t be willing to give up if push came to shove. Percentages of workers who “absolutely would not do without” certain items were as follows:

    • Internet Connection — 56 Percent
    • Driving — 46 Percent
    • Mobile Phone — 42 Percent
    • Cable TV — 27 Percent
    • Eating Out — 11 Percent

    A full 21 percent of workers reported either dipping into savings or reducing retirement contributions within the last year in order to get by.

    What Happened to Last Year’s Numbers?

    Last year, I noted that CareerBuilder’s survey found 7 in 10 workers living paycheck to paycheck. Curiously, this year’s survey says that last year’s survey found not the oh-my-gosh rate of 7 in 10, but rather 4.3 in 10. And I see that Press Release 784 (my source/link) has disappeared from CareerBuilder’s archives. I don’t know if their methodology has changed, or if they’re now running their numbers through the Federal Agency of Enforced Statistical Correctness before releasing them. Gotta wonder just what went on, though.




     

     

  10. Can You Come Up With $2k in a Hurry?

    Sure, the data is a couple of years old, but I don’t doubt it a bit:

    WSJ: Nearly Half of Americans ‘Financially Fragile’

    According to the study, roughly half of Americans reported that they “probably” or “definitely” could not come up with $2,000 if needed within 30 days.

    From the WSJ:

    The survey asked a simple question, “If you were to face a $2,000 unexpected expense in the next month, how would you get the funds you need?” In the U.S., 24.9% of respondents reported being certainly able, 25.1% probably able, 22.2% probably unable and 27.9% certainly unable.

    Other recent, similar surveys have told us that more than 3/4 of us live paycheck-to-paycheck, and 27 percent of us have no personal savings. So it’s not as if this WSJ article’s story is a surprise.