And many don't have enough to cover basic needs for three months.
When 40 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, you have to wonder why saving money is so difficult. Marketplace Money’s Carmen Wong Ulrich points to declining wages, but she also says the culture of saving was lost.
Listener Kurt Deutscher, a 49-year-old web developer who grew up in a low-income family in Portland, Oregon, discusses his economic safety net, which came in the form of a unique graduation gift.
I'm a 36-year-old single professional in the DFW metroplex that tries to think long-term in my financial planning. I put 12 percent of my around $100,000 salary into my 401(k) with company match. Currently, the retirement fund is valued at about $100,000. I owe about $12,000 on my student loans (4.25 percent fixed interest, originally $80,000) and I have about 27 percent equity in my $180,000 town home. I recently refinanced my home at 4.125 percent for 15 years. My credit card debt is maybe $1,000. After surviving a layoff well (due to a generous severance in the Great Recession), I was scared straight once I started working again. I now have about $15,000 in an emergency fund and next year's bonus will go to this, too. So I have three questions: 1) Do I need 6 months of bills or 6 months of salary after tax? 2) Should I park this in savings? Or is there a better financial instrument? 3) Is the emergency fund a higher priority than nuking the graduate school debt? I appreciate your guidance. Keith, Plano, TX