Today’s Quiz: The Middle Class Squeeze—% of Families with the Money for 3 Months of Bills

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ok, no looking or researching or googling. According to a recent study, what percentage of American middle class families do NOT have the money set aside now to handle three months of their bills:

--What percentage of all American middle class families?

--What percentage of American Latino Middle class families?

--What percentage of African American Middle class families?

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance

Posted October 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Hakkatan wrote:

I would guess it is about 75% in general, and 80 to 85% for Latinos and African Americans.

We have that kind of savings - after a long struggle and a small inheritance.

October 30, 5:36 pm | [comment link]
2. St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse wrote:

I would say 25% overall
Latinos I would say 50%
African American, 25%

October 30, 6:18 pm | [comment link]
3. DeeBee wrote:

OK, I’ll bite.  I’ll guess that 83% (5 in 6) of Generic-American, 92% (11 in 12) of Latino-American, and 96% (24 in 25) of African-American families do NOT have a three-month cash reserve.

(Did I mention that hypenated cultural affiliations get on my nerves? rolleyes )

October 30, 6:49 pm | [comment link]
4. Jeffersonian wrote:

I’ll say 65% overall, 70% of Latinos and 90% of blacks.

October 30, 8:03 pm | [comment link]
5. Jennie TCO wrote:

I am not as optimistic as some of you.  I would guess somewhere around 30% overall - with 10% ladino and 15% African American

October 30, 8:47 pm | [comment link]
6. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

OK, I won’t speculate on an answer to Kendall’s question, but I’ll just add that the two top Christian guru’s in the US who dish out financial advice daily on the radio, Howard Dayton of Crown Financial Ministreis, and Dave Ramsay (of The Dave Ramsay Show and Financial Peace University fame etc.), both say that the FIRST step to taking control of your finances and becoming a better steward for Christ is establishing an iniitail emergency fund, with a minimum of $1000.  Then they recommend working on getting out of debt by paying off your credit cards, while seeking to build up the emergency fund to the level of holding in reserve what you need to pay 3-6 months of your regular expenses.  And if you’re in sales, or your income is unpredictable, it ought to be closer to 6 months than just 3.

I’m wondering:  How many Americans don’t even have that minimal $1000 emergency fund?  I’ll bet that figure would also be shockingly and depressingly high.  Lord, have mercy.

David Handy+

October 30, 9:25 pm | [comment link]
7. Knapsack wrote:

I’m guessing 25% of generic Anglos, 10% Hispanic, and 5% of African American families have three months’ equivalent in cash.

BTW, God bless our Latter Day Saints brethren, who mandate as an article of faith having a year’s worth of reserves and iron rations on hand, and a Bishop’s Storehouse to backstop that tenet of their faith.

October 30, 10:42 pm | [comment link]
9. Knapsack wrote:

Kendall, i think we started to flip your question as to percentage, but i’m sorry to learn my horseback guesses cleared the bar for accuracy.


October 31, 9:45 am | [comment link]
10. New Reformation Advocate wrote:


Thanks for not prolonging the suspense, and for giving us the answers.  The numbers are truly appalling, but not surprising.  And as we head deeper into a recession, that could turn into a depression, those figures are pretty scary.  All too many of us are living from paycheck to paycheck, with no adeuqate reserves to fall back on in an emergency.

Alas, it shows how dismally we’ve done with regard to teaching good stewardship in our churches.  I know there are some exceptions, but sadly, overall we’ve done a lousy job of teaching people how to handle their money wisely.  And a LOT of us are now going to pay the price for that foolishness.

David Handy+

October 31, 9:52 am | [comment link]
11. Saltmarsh Gal wrote:

So many people living without any kind of fallback shows just how precarious it all is.  Lord have mercy and let’s get busy with Crown or Financial Peace U in our churches.

October 31, 10:13 am | [comment link]
12. C. Wingate wrote:

I wonder what these numbers looked like historically. My gut reaction is that the percentages of those with “adequate” reserves are low, but that they’ve never been especially high.

October 31, 2:15 pm | [comment link]
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