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Myth of the Middle Class: Most Americans Don’t Even Have $1,000 in Savings

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Forbes has reported that 56% of Americans have less than $1000 of savings, and 63% do not have enough to cover a $500 emergency.

Here's the Forbes article:

The stat comes from Bankrate, and people often cover that emergency with credit cards:

According to a brand new survey from, just 37% of Americans have enough savings to pay for a $500 or $1,000 emergency. The other 63% would have to resort to measures like cutting back spending in other areas (23%), charging to a credit card (15%) or borrowing funds from friends and family (15%) in order to meet the cost of the unexpected event.

It’s not news that Americans are terrible savers. In November, Pew Charitable Trusts reported that one in three American families have no savings at all. In December, Magnify Moneyreleased the results of a study that found that 56.3% of people have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined. Sensing a trend? You should: America’s saving struggle has been a problem year after year after year. 

But this latest survey is particularly striking because of the implications it carries.

“Five-hundred dollars is enough money that it could be catastrophic if you’re really living on the edge and don’t have enough money” to cover that unplanned cost, Bankrate senior investing analyst Sheyna Steiner said in a phone interview. ”I did wonder what would happen if it was $10,000, what would the answer have been then?”

A $10,000 emergency is a somewhat rare occurrence for families of moderate income — but it’s hardly unheard of. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts analysis, the median size of a family’s most expensive financial “shock” (as they call it) in a year is $2,000.

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