Emergency Savings

Emergency savings can help families remain financially secure in the event of an unexpected economic setback, such as losing a job, becoming ill or going through a divorce. Unfortunately, as many as 44% of American households don’t have the cash needed to live three months at the barest level of subsistence—the federal poverty line—which, for a family of four is just $6,062. These families are considered “liquid asset poor”—literally one paycheck away from financial disaster. Research has found that even relatively small amounts of emergency savings can protect low-income Americans from serious hardship, such as hunger. The Urban Institute, for example, has found that households with assets are much less likely to suffer serious hardships in the event of an economic emergency, such as a job loss. Families without emergency savings, on the other hand, are much more vulnerable to economic catastrophe, such as foreclosure or homelessness, and to enrolling in public assistance programs.

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