Whether stuffing it in a piggy bank, sliding it under a mattress, or just keeping it in the actual bank, most people have apparently lost the art of putting money away. A new survey from Bankrate says just 23% of Americans have at least six months’ worth of expenses in savings (the amount recommended by financial experts), while 26% have no emergency savings at all. Even among so-called high-earners--those with incomes above $75,000 annually--less than half have a proper savings fund.
The results come as no surprise to Texas-based financial strategist Steve Scanlon, co-founder of Guardvest. "People are not going to change their behavior in my view," he tells KTRH. "They're not going to change behavior unless something catastrophic happens, where all of a sudden they don't have a job and have to not spend any money." Scanlon says that most people think they don't have enough money to save, when they could actually find plenty of savings just by scanning their budget. "People only think about their budget in terms of what they write in checks, they don't think about what gets deducted out of all their different accounts," he says. Scanlon recommends finding small areas of your budget where you're paying unnecessary fees or charges, or even paying too much for things like gas and food. "You've just got to be educated or informed on where it is you're getting "fee'd" to where you can cut back and start saving that money."
The overall state of the economy doesn't seem to have any effect on people's savings habits. The Bankrate survey results for household savings have stayed nearly the same for the past four years, even as other areas of the economy like home and car sales and the stock market have steadily improved since the recession of 2008-09. Ultimately, saving isn't about having more but about finding more in the money you already have, according to Scanlon. "You can roll that (extra) money into savings so you can have a little more comfort if you need it, and we're all going to need it," he says. "You have to save for a rainy day, because a rainy day is going to happen."