What is your ability to cope with a financial emergency? Could you access $2,000 within a month’s time? From family, friends, credit cards, savings, or other sources? Not how much cash do you personally have on hand but how much could you scrape together, say, to fix a broken car or handle medical bills or other emergency?
Surprisingly few Americans could, according to the Personal Risk Assessment and Risk Literacy Survey by research firm TNS in conjunction with Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College, as reported in the November 16, 2009, issue of Business Week. Forty-six percent said they “weren’t confident” they could. Even more surprisingly, almost 25% of Americans earning $100,000 to $149,000 a year doubted they could raise $2,000 in a month in an emergency.
Savings are like anything else: Some people have a million reasons why they can’t when all they need is one reason why they must. Americans spend a significant amount of money on relaxation, on feel-good things, on brand names.
One key to savings is to make a game out of it, to learn to derive a sense of satisfaction, even enjoyment out of the increased security, independence, and resiliency that a good savings account can bring. Three month’s wages, even six month’s wages, a paid-off mortgage and paid-for cars: all are good targets that will enable you to sleep soundly in the direst of economic times.