Study Says Most Americans Are $500 Away from a Financial Crisis
According to a new report issued by Bankrate.com, 63 percent of Americans are just $500 away from being sent into a spiral of debt.
The survey indicates that most of the U.S. workforce would not be able to handle a sudden $1,000 emergency room bill, much less a surprise $500 car repair bill. This is despite reports of a decidedly stronger U.S. economy.
The study indicates the majority of Americans do not have emergency spending stocked away. Additionally, many don't foresee the ability to save any time in the near future.
Bankrate cites a few reasons for the ongoing shortfall:
The median income for most U.S. workers has slumped since 1999. This, coupled with rising costs for food, housing and health care, leaves many with little or nothing left to save at the end of the month. The survey also found that while the reported typical salary for most adult workers is around $54,000 -- one in five of the respondents to the study were making $30,000 a year or less.
Only those making $75,000 a year or more reported that they felt confident they would be able to weather a sudden bill of $500 to $1,000.
So, what do most Americans report that they would do if the worst case scenario became a reality? Twenty-three percent said they would try to figure out ways to cut spending (the first thing to go would be eating out and cutting back on their grocery bill; next, entertainment luxuries such as cable TV and Netflix).
Fifteen percent said that they would need to rely on credit cards and another 15 percent said they would need to reach out to friends or family for assistance.
Only one-third of Americans said they would be willing to cut back spending on alcohol, however. It appears that, at least some of us, don't want to face a mounting stack of unpaid bills without drowning our sorrows in a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer.