As the economy continues to be stagnant and the unemployment rate continues to be high, a recent poll by BankRate.com found that still far too few people are preparing for the possibility of a job loss or a long term financial emergency.
Over 6 million people have been out of work longer than six months, yet only 24 percent of Americans have at least six months' expenses in an emergency fund. An equal 24 percent have nothing tucked away for a rainy day. And 22 percent have some savings, but not enough to cover even three months' expenses. Those under age 30 and the lowest-income households were most likely to report having no emergency savings at all.
As the poll found, only 24 percent of Americans have saved a minimum of 6 months of expenses in an emergency fund or saving account of some kind. To be honest I guess I'm not surprised that in our credit focused society that only 1/4 of people have saved up 6 months of expenses, but to some degree it's still sad that so many people are unprepared. Are they hoping that someone else – or the government – will pick them back up when they've fallen? I wouldn't count on it.
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Why Are Emergency Funds Important?
There are a variety of reasons why I think emergency funds are more important than ever.
Bad Things DO Happen
I think a lot of people have the outlook that bad things happen to other people, or that if something bad does happen, it won't be that big of a deal. The thing is, most of us are going to have a major negative event at some point.
Money magazine says that 78% of us will have a major negative event happen in any given 10-year period of time.
78% of us are going to have a major negative event to deal with in any 10 year period. I know that has certainly held true for our family has we've had to deal with several major negative health events. So if you haven't had one recently, you may be due.
Emergency Savings Help You Bounce Back Quicker
The fact that you have an emergency fund can help you to weather any number of storms from a layoff to a major health event. While you can't always avoid bad situations, when you have an emergency fund you're able to bounce back that much quicker. When you don't have an emergency fund the sad fact is that people end up in foreclosure, bankruptcy and other horrible situations I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
Why not plan ahead and avoid all those things?
Emergency Savings Give Peace Of Mind
When you have emergency savings you'll have a lot more peace of mind when the waves start to get higher and the adversity starts showing up. When you've got emergency savings, insurance and a backup plan, you won't be as worried about some of the bad things that can happen.
Have A Backup Plan
So many have not planned ahead for the negative events that will happen in life. They don't have emergency savings, they don't have insurance and they are just hoping that someone else will cover the bill for them. While in some cases that may happen, far too many will find that there isn't anyone there that they can rely on, including the government.
Do you have an emergency fund saved up? How much are you saving in case of an major negative event? Why do you think so few people save up in case of an emergency?