NEW YORK – July 21, 2021 – More than half of Americans (51%) have less than 3 months’ worth of emergency savings, according to a Bankrate.com report. This includes 1 in 4 (25%) who indicate having no emergency savings at all, up from 21% in 2020. Further, just 1 in 6 (17%) report having more emergency savings now than pre-pandemic. Click here for more information:
Meanwhile, 26% have some emergency savings, but not enough to cover 3 months’ expenses, 19% have enough to cover 3-5 months’ expenses, 25% have enough to cover 6 months’ expenses or more, and 5% either don’t know how much they have or refused to answer.
Lower-income households were the hardest hit by the pandemic and are overwhelmingly more likely to not have any emergency savings and less likely to have 6 months’ expenses saved.
Nearly half (49%) of households earning less than $30,000 annually and 27% earning between $30,000-$49,999 annually have no emergency savings, compared to 13% earning between $50,000-$74,999 annually and 14% earning $75,000 or more annually.
Just 9% of the lowest-earning households and 17% earning between $30,000-$49,999 annually have enough emergency savings to cover 6 months’ expenses, compared to 25% earning between $50,000-$74,999 annually and 43% of households earning $75,000 or more annually.
Younger cohorts are more likely to have less saved than those who are older. Over half of millennials (57%; ages 25-40) either have no emergency savings or less than would cover 3 months’ expenses, compared to 44% of Gen Xers (ages 41-56) and 49% of baby boomers (ages 57-75). On the other end, 30% of baby boomers and 29% of Gen Xers have enough emergency savings to cover at least 6 months’ expenses, compared to 19% of millennials.
“It takes time to accumulate a sufficient emergency savings cushion equivalent to at least 6 months of expenses, and in part, because what constitutes 6 months of expenses is itself a moving target from early adulthood through middle age,” said Bankrate.com chief financial analyst, Greg McBride, CFA. “This is why the habit of saving – via direct deposit or automatic bank transfer – is so vitally important, as it represents the pathway to accumulating a comfortable savings cushion over time.”
Only 17% of U.S. adults report having more emergency savings now compared to pre-pandemic, while twice as many (34%) indicate having less emergency savings now. Forty-eight percent say the amount of emergency savings they have now is unchanged from pre-pandemic levels, including six percent who had no emergency savings pre-pandemic and have none now.
Households with incomes below $75,000 annually are also more than three times as likely to have less emergency savings now (40%) rather than more (12%) compared to their pre-pandemic level, while households earning $75,000 or more annually were equally as likely to have more or less (27%) emergency savings now than pre-pandemic.
“Americans’ emergency savings may not be in better shape after all,” added McBride. “Just 1 in 6 households report having more emergency savings now than prior to the pandemic, and it is predominantly higher-income households and those with fully-funded emergency savings.”
Overall, U.S. adults are divided when considering their comfort with their current level of emergency savings (51% comfortable vs. 48% uncomfortable).
The division is more pronounced by income level and age, with just 35% of households earning under $50,000 annually being comfortable with their level of emergency savings, compared to 62% earning over $50,000 annually. More than half of millennials (55%) are uncomfortable with their level of emergency savings versus comfortable (45%) compared to Gen Xers (46% uncomfortable vs. 54% comfortable) and baby boomers (48% uncomfortable vs. 50% comfortable).
This study was conducted for Bankrate via telephone by SSRS on its Omnibus survey platform. The SSRS Omnibus is a national, weekly, dual-frame bilingual telephone survey. Interviews were conducted from June 22-27, 2021 among a sample of 1,009 respondents in English (973) and Spanish (36). Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (202) and cell phone (807, including 542 without a landline phone). The margin of error for total respondents is +/- 3.74% at the 95% confidence level. All SSRS Omnibus data are weighted to represent the target population.