$1K Emergency? Most of Us Would Struggle to Cover It

38% of those making at least $100K would have a tough time
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2016 1:05 PM CDT
$1K Emergency? Most of Us Would Struggle to Cover It
It's just 10 Ben Franklins, but most Americans say they'd struggle to come up with it.   (Shutterstock)

Two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to a poll released Thursday. These financial difficulties span all income levels, according to the poll conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In households making less than $50,000 a year, 75% of people would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill. But when income rose to between $50,000 and $100,000, the difficulty decreased only modestly to 67%. Even for the country's wealthiest 20%—households making more than $100,000 a year—38% say they would have at least some difficulty coming up with $1,000.

As to how they'd pay it, among those who wouldn't use cash they had on hand, a third said they would have to borrow from a bank or from friends and family, or put the bill on a credit card; 13% would skip paying other bills, and 11% said they would likely not pay the bill at all. Those numbers suggest that most American families do not have at least $1,000 stashed away in an accessible savings account, much less under their mattresses, to cover an emergency. Still, two-thirds of Americans said they feel positive about their finances, according to the survey data, which the AP sees as a sign that they're managing day-to-day expenses fine. (The picture doesn't get a whole lot better when the amount drops to $400.)

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