Barriers to Saving and Policy Opportunities
The role of emergency savings in family financial security
Access to savings in times of need may reduce hardship and maximize financial control.
This brief is the third in a series of three that explore how financial shocks and emergency savings are related to families’ financial well-being. Savings may help households cope with unexpected expenses and preserve wealth over the long run. Understanding the frequency and impact of events that might strain budgets, and the resources families have to cope with them, is crucial to building policies that promote financial health.
Many households are at risk of financial shocks, which can disrupt and derail their finances, and the savings most families have on hand are probably insufficient to overcome these challenges. Pew research has shown that the typical family would need to increase its liquid savings by more than $9,000 to reach even the level of savings that survey participants say households like their own should have. Understanding this discrepancy is key to designing and implementing efficient and effective public policy.
This brief explores how Americans think about their savings; how policymakers might enable diverse families to better prepare for, handle, and recover from financial challenges; and related economic factors that should be considered to ensure that policies and programs respond to families’ needs.