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A third of Americans have zero dollars in their savings accounts

34 percent of Americans have zero dollars in their savings accounts, while 35 percent have less than 1.000 dollars, a Bankrate study shows.

Only 15 percent of Americans have more than $10,000 in their accounts, the survey found.

While the survey shows that Americans are becoming more aware of the importance of having money stashed away, financial experts say the amount people save is insufficient to help them during hard times.


”Having emergency savings allows you to take advantages of opportunities,” said chief financial analyst Greg McBride, who advances the 6 months worth of salary savings safety net as the bare minimum.

But the 6 months plan is not good enough for personal finance expert and best-selling author Suze Orman.

”The people offering that advice are idiots,”, she said, urging Americans to aim to have at least eight to 12 months worth of living expenses in the bank.

”Go back to 2007. You lost your job, you lost everything; you were working on this tech thing and all the start-ups went down,” she said.

”Nobody had any money to invest, nobody wanted to touch anything, nobody wanted to IPO because the markets were going down, and you couldn’t find anything to do. Think it took you just three months to find another job? Think it took you six months to find another job?”

”It’s not just about the economy. What if you get sick? What if you’re hit by a car? What if something happens crazy in this world? We live in the craziest world I’ve ever seen in my life right now. And the only way you can take craziness out of that is for you to make yourself secure,” she added.

The safe savings plan

According to financial experts from the Bankrate company, a safe plan of savings should evolve according to one’s age:

  • Americans in their 20s should aim to save 25 percent of their overall gross pay;
  • By age 30 they should have the equivalent of an annual salary saved;
  • By age 35 they should have twice their annual salary saved;
  • By age 40 they should have three times their annual salary saved;
  • By age 45 they should have four times their annual salary saved;
  • By age 50 they should have five times their annual salary saved.

But the discrepancy between what Americans know they should do and what they manage to do – not saving enough – is the number one financial regret they have, the survey showed.

46 percent of adults that were surveyed wish they had put more away, whether for retirement, emergency expenses or their children’s education.

”Saving is all about habit. Automate it. Prioritise it. You have to establish the habit. You need to make a conscious decision to save today. There’s not a magic pill that can do that for you,” McBride said.

Breaking the stereotypes

According to the Bankrate study, 32% of Americans aged 53 to 62 have no emergency savings, the highest among the different age groups.

McBride said many Americans in the baby boomer generation may have lost their savings in the economic downturn or faced long-term unemployment.

Americans older than 63 reported the lowest likelihood of empty savings and 44% of them have enough savings to cover at least 6 months worth of expenses.

According to McBride, millennials aged 18 to 26 exhibited strong saving habits and, even if many of them have student loan debts, they are more likely to buy less and save money because they saw their parents and older siblings experience the recession.

Daniel Pruitt