() — A $1,000 unexpected emergency expense could derail the lives of more than half of all Americans, according to a new survey.
The survey was conducted bya financial analysis and comparison site.
Bankrate found that only 44% of Americans surveyed could afford a $1,000 emergency expense. That number is actually up one percentage point from the previous year, the company said.
Those 56% of Americans who couldn’t weather the storm said they would address that unexpected emergency charge in other ways. Most (21%) said they would use a credit card, 10% would borrow from loved ones and 4% would take out a personal loan. Only 16% said they would reduce their spending to address an unexpected emergency expense, Bankrate said.
Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for the site, said many Americans continue to “walk on thin ice” when it comes to emergency expenses.
Also discussed was the ever-present topic of inflation and rising prices.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Americans said inflation was causing them to save less for emergencies. On the flipside, however, 19% said they were actually saving more for emergencies specifically because of rising interest rates which are friendly to those putting extra away into their savings accounts.
“Inflation has been a key culprit standing in the way of further progress on the savings front,” Hamrick said. “Fortunately, rising interest rates have also provided more generous returns on savings.”
And if inflation or an unexpected emergency isn’t scary enough, the prospect of losing one’s job is also causing stress for many Americans.
If they were to suddenly lose their jobs, two-thirds of those surveyed said they would be worried about how they would be able to cover immediate living expenses for just the next month. Within that figure, 42% said they were “very worried.”
Hamrick said that, despite these fears and stressors, there is room for optimism.
“We indeed dodged the proverbial bullet as an often-predicted recession did not materialize during the last couple of years,” he said. “The still robust job market continues to provide the foundation for the opportunity to save, bolstered by some of the best returns on savings in years. Now is the time to prepare for the unexpected by prioritizing emergency savings.”
Bankrate said the nationwide survey was conducted using a mixture of online and phone responses with more than 1,000 adults interviewed.
For more on the findings and methodology,.