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Survey: 40 Percent Of Americans Have $500 Or Less In Savings

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(Photo illustration by Ed Fischer)

(Photo illustration by Ed Fischer)

John Ostapkovich John Ostapkovich
John Ostapkovich brings humor and wit, and a wealth of experience...
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By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A survey of about 1,100 Americans finds that more than 4-in-10 respondents admit they don’t have more than $500 in readily accessible savings.

The survey is a kind of departure for CreditDonkey.com, a website that compares credit card deals. Not respondents all were poor. Some had big houses, big mortgages or 401(k)s, but still no more than five Benjamins to rub together right now.

Jill Michal, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, reacts to the lack of liquid assets.

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“It doesn’t shock me, but it does scare me. You know, we often say that the reason so many people fall off the edge in a tough economy is that they’re standing way too close to it, and I think this is a perfect demonstration of that.”

Michal says there’s a lack of training in personal finances.

“This is about life skills. It’s not just about arithmetic and reading, but we have to be able to teach the next generation that we have to be able to save for our own futures and we have to be able to save for those risks that could come our way.”

Michal says United Way has programs that teach work- and life-skills, although she thinks a lot of this ought to be done in schools or homes.

In addition to the emergency savings question, the survey found that 54% of respondents don’t have a savings plan in place, and 45% are afraid they’ll never be able to save.

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