Survey: Nearly half of Americans can’t cover an unexpected $400 expense

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About 40 percent of adult Americans would not be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense without selling a personal item or borrowing money, according to a new survey of U.S. households.

A survey by the Federal Reserve finds that four in ten Americans “would either not be able to cover [an unexpected expense] or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.”


That figure has improved from last year, the survey notes, when 50 percent of Americans said they would be unable to cover a surprise expenditure.

Other data in the survey found that more than 25 percent of U.S. adults avoided medical care in 2017 due to fears about unwanted costs.

In addition, “over one-fifth of adults are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full,” the survey continues.

Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation this year than they were a year ago, the Federal Reserve found, and now 75 percent of Americans say they are either living comfortably or doing OK financially, up from 71 percent in 2016.

When it comes to planning for the future, however, that optimism fades. Less than two-fifths of Americans say their savings for retirement are on-track, while one-fourth of Americans do not have any retirement savings at all.

The Federal Reserve survey was conducted between November and December of 2017, and was completed by 12,246 Americans, according to the Fed’s data. The survey did not state a margin of error.

Tags Economics Federal Reserve Survey

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