The Federal Reserve System released its Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015. It is a very detailed report with many interesting findings. Two of the findings need to be shared because they are shocking—they concern 1) Financial preparedness; and 2) Retirement.
Nearly half of adults are ill-prepared for a financial disruption and would struggle to cover emergency expenses should they arise.
What exactly does this mean? What level of financial disruption would they be ill-prepared to cover?
If a tornado blew through your town, it would be very difficult for adults to be prepared for this “disruption.”
Unfortunately, the following statistic deals with a smaller type disruption.
Forty-six percent of adults say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.
This being said, the total percentage of people who would struggle in an emergency situation has improved over the past few years. This is the Fed’s third survey, and the number has dropped from 50 percent in 2013 to 46 percent in 2015.
What about a disruptive medical expense? One of the major financial risks facing U.S. families is that of a health care emergency.
Twenty-two percent of respondents experienced a major unexpected medical expense that they had to pay out of pocket in the prior year, and 46 percent of those who say they had a major medical expense report that they currently owe debt from that expense.
Nearly half of respondents had debt or unpaid balances left over from the surprise medical costs, which averaged $2,782.
Our hope for all those who answered the last statistic is that they were not confronting a loved one who became disabled and temporarily or permanently lost his/her ability to earn a paycheck.
Financial Preparedness Gauged by an Additional Report
A lack of emergency savings that helps people weather unexpected expenses such as a health crisis or car trouble is a serious problem. In fact, about 63 percent of Americans say they’re unable to handle a $500 car repair or a $1,000 emergency room bill, according to a new survey from Bankrate.com.
This is a disastrous financial reality for many Americans. Real median household income has slumped since 1999, when it reached a high of $57,843, and now hovers at about $54,000. Financial preparedness is becoming more and more difficult to attain.
But the increasing costs of everything has left many families struggling to put money aside for emergencies.
Even though most people would think such financial shocks are rare, the fact is they are increasingly common for American workers.
Financial Preparedness: Emergency Savings
One of the more serious revelations of the study is it’s not just a matter of Americans not having $400 available and liquid; it’s a matter of many not having $400 period.
And while it’s generally smart to put cash you’re not using into a more lucrative investment, be certain your emergency fund is fully funded before investing elsewhere.
Today, it is much easier said than done.