In the realm of personal finance, you hear some advice so often it becomes almost robotic. For example, spend no more than than one-third of your income on housing, or save at least six months of living expenses for emergencies.
Putting those words into action is the hard part.
Just twenty percent of Americans said they have more than $100 saved up for the unexpected, according to a recent survey by CashNetUSA.
Nationwide, about half of adults have at least $800 tucked away, though people in their 50s are having a harder time than those in their 40s. The over-50 sect saw a 10% decline this year, compared to a 9% bump for people in their 40s.
As a rule, $1,000 seems to do the job for most basic emergencies (car trouble, ER visit, etc.). But the whole reason experts advise saving six times that figure is to give yourself cushion for the long-run. You don't want one broken arm to derail your entire savings account.
Ideally, we are fans of the six month's expenses rule, however daunting it may be. Take your rent/mortgage + meals + bills + transportation and multiply that by six to get a rough estimate of your goal.
Then, start small. The simplest way is to automate your savings with each pay period (shoot for 10%) so you won't even have to think about it. Soon enough, you might find you don't miss the extra cash as much as you thought you would. And if you can't possibly imagine finding an extra 10% to dedicate to savings every two weeks, trust us, sites like Mint.com will prove otherwise. Once you've started tracking your expenses and can finally see exactly how many times you eat out or hit up the grocery store each week, you'll probably find some extra fat to trim.
Check out the infographic below to see how the rest of the country's savers are doing:
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