Forty-eight percent of Americans report that they are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent survey by online lender NetCredit.com.
Another 44 percent of respondents say they are only trying to stay up to date on bills or home payments and avoid excessive debt or bankruptcy.
Among the population segments who are most concerned about living paycheck to paycheck are respondents in their 30s at 62 percent, respondents under the age of 60 at 54 percent, respondents with children at 57 percent, respondents with at least five in the household at 64 percent and respondents in the South at 53 percent.
“Living paycheck to paycheck puts many Americans dangerously close to their own personal fiscal cliff should they be hit with an emergency expense,” says Stephanie Klein, head of consumer lending at NetCredit. “An unexpected medical bill, car repair or higher-than-usual utility bill can easily push them beyond their ability to pay bills on time.”
The survey also finds that 24 percent of respondents say they are mostly concerned with staying current on their bills, 6 percent of respondents are focused on their home payments, and 14 percent of respondents are mainly trying to prevent excessive debt or bankruptcy.
If the respondents were faced with a financial emergency, they say they would rely on the following resources: general savings at 61 percent, credit cards at 23 percent, borrowing from family or friends at 16 percent, “rainy day” fund at 15 percent, pawn or sell items at 7 percent, bank loan at 5 percent, short-term cash advances at 4 percent and installment loans at 2 percent.
“But there might not be enough cash there to handle the crisis,” says Klein, referring to a recent FDIC finding that nearly half of Americans cannot access $2,000 in 30 days in case of an emergency. “We established NetCredit this summer to provide more flexible options to Americans needing access to cash, especially in these emergency situations.”