Consumers still not saving much money

Millions of Americans are still struggling at least a little bit when it comes to maintaining healthy finances, and as a result many may have difficulties building up a large savings account for when financial emergencies hit. Indeed, that lack of ability to save significantly shows up time and again nationwide, and may put nearly half the country in significant peril.

Today, more than 3 in 5 Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account to properly insulate them from unforeseen expenses, and that could put them in a dangerous position if such worries arise, according to a new survey from GoBankingRates. While this is hardly anything new for many Americans, it does highlight a significant peril. Nearly half of all those polled indicated that they either have nothing in their savings account, or just don't have such an account at all.

"It's worrisome that such a large percentage of Americans have so little set aside in a savings account," said Cameron Huddleston, a personal finance expert and columnist for GoBankingRates. "It suggests that they likely don't have cash reserves to cover an emergency and will have to rely on credit, friends, and family, or even their retirement accounts to cover unexpected expenses."

What's the breakdown?
Indeed, about 21 percent don't have an account, and 28 percent have nothing saved in it, the report said. Another 9 percent indicated they only had enough in the account to keep it open (because of their banks' minimum balance requirements). Another 13 percent had less than $1,000.

This problem was particularly pronounced - perhaps not surprisingly - among the youngest group of adults, the report said. Among those between 18 and 24 years old, more than 43 percent had no savings or no account, while 44 percent of those 25 to 34 were in the same boat. Also coming as little shock was the fact that wealthier people were far more likely to have sizable savings.

Other data
In addition, men and women were roughly the same in terms of who's most likely to not have an account at all, as well as which would have no money in such an account, the report said. But women tended to be better savers in the middle three groups ("just the minimum balance," "less than $1,000," and "between $1,000 and $4,999"). But there was a small advantage among men for accounts of between $5,000 and $9,999, and a huge one for those with more than $10,000 in the bank (about 1 in 6 versus just 1 in 10 for women).

The importance of having a robust emergency savings account likely cannot be understated to consumers. Unpredictable expenses often arise for people no matter what their financial background is, and having the flexibility to simply cash out some of an account with a few thousand dollars in it (for example) provides a significant safety net. In addition, this type of savings can be used to pay down outstanding debts, and as such can provide appreciable financial and credit benefits over time.

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