When the unexpected strikes, most Americans aren't prepared to pay for it.
A majority, or 64%, of Americans don't have enough cash on hand to handle a $1,000 emergency expense, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, or NFCC, released on Wednesday.
Only 36% said they would tap their rainy day funds for an emergency. The rest of the 2,700 people polled said that they would have to go to other extremes to cover an unexpected expense, such as borrowing money or taking out a cash advance on a credit card.
"It's alarming," said Gail Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the Washington, DC-based non-profit. "For consumers who live paycheck to paycheck -- having spent tomorrow's money -- an unplanned expense can truly put them in financial distress," she noted.--
Economic fears are weighing heavily on Americans, with a large majority saying the United States is on the wrong track and nearly half believing the worst is yet to come, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Wednesday.
The poll reflected growing anxiety about the U.S. economy and frustration with Washington after a narrowly averted government default last week, a credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor's, a stock market dive and a stubbornly high 9.1 percent jobless rate.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll found 73 percent of Americans believe the United States is "off on the wrong track," and just one in five, 21 percent, think the country is headed in the right direction.
The survey found that 47 percent believe "the worst is yet to come" in the U.S. economy, an increase of 13 percentage points from a year ago when this question was last raised.
This is the highest measure since March 2009, when concern peaked at 57 percent, at the height of the recession.