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NeighborWorks: 1 in 3 adult Americans has no emergency savings

Lack of funds hits downpayments, mortgage payments

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A survey by NeighborWorks America finds that almost 70 million working age Americans – about one-third – have no emergency savings, and 25% only have enough saved to cover 30 days of living expenses.

About one in five have enough savings to cover three months – about the average time of unemployment for many Americans – while 28 % expect their emergency funds to cover a year.

Expenses in this case include housing costs, like mortgage payments or rent.

This information is important to the housing industry as affordability challenges are one of the primary problems facing the homebuyers, with one in three homes deemed unaffordable to the average buyer. Mortgage originations are at a 14-year low, according to Black Knight Financial Services.

Almost 70% say that they’re setting money aside in case of a financial emergency.

“These data have to light a fire under all of us who want to see Americans better able to withstand a financial crisis, especially a recession as devastating as the one we’re climbing out of now,” said Eileen M. Fitzgerald, NeighborWorks America CEO. “Our survey underscores the need to provide better tools and information for people to manage the money they do have in order to build a strong financial base.”

NeighborWorks is a nonprofit affordable housing advocacy.

Retirement and buying a home are the top savings goals at 28% and 13%, respectively, with just 5% of consumers saying that they are currently saving to create a buffer in case of a financial emergency.

Nationally, 29% of working-age Americans have no emergency savings. About 43% of blacks and 39% of Hispanic adults said that they had no emergency savings.

Just 11% of people making $100,000 or more per year said that they had no emergency fund, while 52% of people earning less than $40,000 said that they had no such reserve.  

People whose income places them squarely in the middle class also are financially vulnerable, with 24% of adults with income between $40-59,000 holding no emergency fund.

“In today’s marketplace, everyone, including those with limited incomes, can set aside some savings for emergencies and work to achieve other financial goals,” Fitzgerald said. “We are seeing great results for consumers who use a financial coach to help them start saving, reduce debt and work toward financial goals.”

The survey results are based on survey of 1,000 respondents.

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