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About a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings

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In this photo illustration the phrase "In God We Trust" can be seen on an American ten dollar bill on October 23, 2008 in London, England.

Around 25% of Americans report having no emergency savings, up from 21% in 2020, per a new Bankrate.com survey. Hugh Pinney via Getty Images

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Americans were able to add almost $2 trillion to their savings accounts last year, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve. But a new Bankrate.com survey released Wednesday shows that not all Americans could do that, especially low-income Americans.

Financial advisors often recommend saving enough to cover three to six months of expenses for emergencies. 

“That feels like the hugest intimidating number ever,” said Kera Waters, a single mom in California and who said she’s struggled to save.

Waters kept her job as a bilingual speech pathologist in the pandemic, but she lives in a high-cost area. Last month, she ran an overdraft on her bank account by a couple of hundred dollars. 

“And I had to use that to purchase our medications and like milk to get to the end of the month,” she said.

According to Bankrate’s survey, 25% of Americans have no emergency savings. 

That’s why the high savings rate during the pandemic does not tell a full story, said Greg McBride with Bankrate. 

“That has certainly not fallen evenly across all households,” he said.

Low-income households had a hard time saving. And savings are important beyond emergencies, because “it can also be thought of as an opportunity fund, anybody who’s looking to start a business,” McBride said.

That’s something that’s harder to do without some money put away. 

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