Nearly Half of Us Are Dangling on the Edge of Financial Ruin
Life + Money

Nearly Half of Us Are Dangling on the Edge of Financial Ruin

Even as the job market continues to improve, many financial experts recommend that most Americans keep at least three to six months of expenses stashed away in an emergency savings account. Yet that message – despite years of shaky economic times – still hasn’t gotten through.

Over 40 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, says a new report from Springleaf Financial, a consumer finance company. The findings, released today, apply to people across all education and salary levels.

Related: Retirement Savings Fears Grip Americans: ‘I Don’t Have Enough’

The study discovered that 24 percent of consumers have less than $250 in their bank accounts on any given payday – leaving them without reserves to handle unexpected costs.

“We know full well that with rising costs and unexpected expenses, consumers may have a tough time making ends meet,” Dave Hogan, executive vice president of marketing and analytics at Springleaf, said in a statement.

‘Rather Go to the Dentist’
Among those surveyed who make more than $200,000 per year, 20 percent said they save rarely, inconsistently, or not at all. One in four consumers with a graduate degree actually couldn’t miss a single month of paychecks without having to borrow or sell assets.

Related: Financial Lessons We Must Teach Our Kids

The study put some of the blame for Americans’ failure to save on a lack of financial skills. One in five says they learned about money “the hard way” – and one in five says they would rather go to the dentist than spend half an hour learning money management skills.

The survey was conducted online among 2,010 consumers in October 2014.  

In a separate survey done this year by Ameriprise Financial, just a quarter of people said they were trimming their housing expenses or college savings – the big lifestyle decisions that could result in serious savings. By comparison, more than half said they were cutting down on everyday expenses like eating out, entertainment, and clothing.

Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: