Majority of Americans don't have six months of savings

Bills shuffle through a counting machine. The majority of U.S. adults don't have the six-month savings buffer necessary to survive a financial emergency, a survey says. (Susana Gonzalez / Bloomberg )

If the standard financial wisdom is true – that surviving a financial catastrophe requires a 6-month cache of emergency savings – then two-thirds of Americans may be in for a nasty surprise.

Only a quarter of U.S. adults have more than six months of funds set aside and readily accessible for such disasters; 28% had none at all, according to Bankrate.com.

Of the 1,000 survey respondents, 17% said they had three to five months of expenses squirreled away in case of job loss, sudden medical bills or other unexpected events; 9% didn’t answer the question.

A similar report earlier this year found that 43.1% of Californians have little to no financial cushion when factoring out homes and other assets that can’t be quickly or easily converted into cash.

Retirees are better prepared – more than four in 10 have at least six months of a financial buffer, according to Bankrate. Less than a quarter of whites have no savings stash; 38% of non-white respondents are in the same boat. Republicans are less likely than Democrats and independents to be caught in the cold.

At least more people than not feel increasingly stable in their jobs: About a quarter said their sense of professional security is increasing from a year ago, compared with 16% who said the opposite. Men tended to be less worried about their status at work than women.

Same goes for net worth. More than a quarter of adults (more men than women) believe that their total assets minus debts are currently higher than they were 12 months prior, compared with 20% who think their value has declined.

Younger respondents report being better along than their older peers.

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