Why Only 1 in 5 American Households Boosted Their Emergency Savings in 2023

couple looking over their savings

Emergency savings have long been the backbone of financial peace. It’s the safety net that helps families face unexpected situations. In an ideal world, we’d all be steadily increasing our emergency funds year over year. Yet, 2023’s figures tell a different story: only one in five American households managed to increase their emergency savings.

A Surprising Statistic in Times of Need

Bankrate’s recent survey gives an insightful look into the state of America’s emergency savings. Out of approximately 2,500 adults polled, a staggering 80% haven’t augmented their emergency savings this year. These figures come even when the majority confess they feel behind on their savings goals. What’s holding everyone back? The overarching reason seems to be the prevailing inflation, followed closely by burdensome household expenses.

Digging Deeper into the Numbers

Bankrate’s data reveals that almost 32% of households have less in their emergency funds now than they did at the start of 2023. This diminishing fund isn’t spread evenly across generations. Older generations, including Gen X and baby boomers, have witnessed a more significant dip in their savings compared to millennials and Gen Z. Interestingly, millennials and Gen Z have almost even odds of having either increased or decreased their savings since the year’s onset.

When it comes to income brackets, households with an income of $100,000 or more were the ones who fared better, being more likely to increase their savings. In stark contrast, the likelihood of having no emergency savings at all dwindles as income rises.

Education also plays a role. Those with a four-year undergraduate degree or higher have been more proactive in adding to their emergency stash this year compared to those without such a degree.

The Inflation Effect

Inflation, the dreaded economic ghost from the past, has re-emerged and is haunting many Americans’ financial dreams. Among households that haven’t added to their emergency savings this year, a whopping 57% point at inflation as the primary reason.

And this inflation effect is more pronounced among certain demographics; Gen Xers and baby boomers feel its pinch more than the younger generations. Even across varying income groups, inflation remains the top enemy of savings, with the sentiment most resonant in households earning between $80,000 to $99,999.

Behind on Savings: A Closer Look

When asked about the adequacy of their emergency funds, 60% of Americans expressed that they’re lagging. Breaking this down, 38% feel significantly behind, while 22% feel they’re slightly off track. The generational divide is again evident here. Gen X and baby boomers overwhelmingly feel they’re not where they should be with their emergency savings. On the flip side, millennials and Gen Zers show more optimism, with a higher percentage believing they’re ahead.

However, among those who recognize they’re behind, there’s a gloomy outlook. A disheartening 13% believe they’ll never get their savings back on track, and a further 22% are unsure about the timeline to reach their goals.

Wrapping Up

The state of emergency savings in 2023 paints a complex picture. Economic challenges, primarily inflation and mounting expenses, seem to be overpowering Americans’ intentions to save. Older generations, especially, are feeling the squeeze. Yet, despite these challenges, it’s crucial for households to find avenues to build and sustain their emergency savings. A strong safety net is not just a financial necessity but a cornerstone of peace of mind.



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