Do you have enough to feel financially prepared in case of an emergency?

A new study says the average person needs $5,078 in savings to feel financially prepared. Gen Z saves most, baby boomers least -- ConsumerAffairs

Saving money just as good as meditation? Hmm...

What would it take to feel financially prepared? New research has found the average American feels prepared for the worst once they have $5,078 saved up.

The poll of 2,000 employed Americans split evenly by generation (500 Gen Z, 500 millennials, 500 Gen X and 500 baby boomers) found Gen Zers need at least $4,286 in their bank account at any given time to feel prepared.

Meanwhile, baby boomers would like to have almost $6,500 ($6,490.70) and Gen X would feel most secure with closer to $5,000 ($4,910.10).

Conducted by Talker Research on behalf of Chime, the majority of respondents (63%) said they would be unable to pay an emergency expense in full – even one as little as $500 – if they had to rely solely on their current savings.

Nearly a third of the respondents admitted it would put a strain on their finances, and another 17% could not currently afford that type of expense, but believe they could eventually find some way to pull together the funds to make it happen. 

The yin and yang of having to pay for things

Where that rainy day money would come from is interesting, too. To reduce that cost, 32% of respondents would dip into savings, while 28% would call family and friends – a clear indication that while many people recognize the importance of this expense, they are struggling to come up with the funds to make it happen.

Over a quarter (26%) said they would temporarily postpone other expenses, such as groceries or less important bills, in order to pay off unexpected bills. However, the yang of that postponing yin is that most people (72%) spend most of their paychecks on paying bills, and 69% say that's the first thing they do when they get paid.

Leading up to payday, 39% admitted they’re more likely to avoid social events in order to save funds for when they really need it. This is likely a result of trying to combat the feeling of “pay paralysis” that 59% experience — a wave of anxiety or fear due to low funds between pay cycles.

“The survey also found that the average American starts to feel stressed about their money just seven days after receiving their paycheck,” said Madhu Muthukumar, chief product officer at Chime. “It’s clear that rising costs are impacting Americans’ well-being and people need simple, helpful and powerful tools to manage their budget, especially between paychecks.” 

Don’t have two nickels to rub together?

No matter how old you are, you’re part of a generation that tries to save some money. But it depends how old you are as to how much that is.

Gen Z’ers were found to take the most care, saving nearly a quarter (23%) of their paycheck. They may be taking that cue from baby boomers who, according to another recent study, are afraid that they won't be able to support themselves in retirement and, on average, are only socking away about 11% of their earnings.

Millennials, meanwhile, said they’re able to set aside 17% of their paycheck for their savings, and Gen Xers are saving 12%

Those low percentages have another consequence, though – mental health. Four out of every 10 said that their mental health is being adversely affected by their current financial situation, but the majority of those (72%) who agreed that maintaining financial wellness positively impacts their mental health, said that doing that works the same way that meditation or mindfulness does. 

“Set clear financial goals that prioritize your needs and spending. Open communication about your financial boundaries can lead to better understanding and support in your inner circles,” said Dasha Kennedy, personal finance advocate for Chime. “And practice open communication — talking about your financial boundaries can lead to better understanding and support from your inner circles. 

“That means it is okay to say ‘no’ to events or purchases that don't fit your budget. Take the lead in suggesting group activities by using free or low-cost activities to stay connected without going over your budget.”

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