As recently as March 2016, Americans were saving just 6% of their income on average—well below the recommended amount of at least 10%.
Whether it’s the desire or the ability to save that’s lacking is up for debate, but a number of changes in U.S. society have made it more important than ever to establish a healthy financial cushion.
Here are three trends worth considering when deciding how much money to save each month.
1) Reduced Job Security
At the same time globalization, automation and technological change have disrupted major industries (manufacturing, for example), mergers, cost “restructuring” and reduced worker protections have become the norm. The result is a job market characterized by markedly less job security. The takeaway is that now more than ever you need a rainy day fund to lean on during bouts of unemployment.
2) Fewer Benefits for Workers
Big and small companies in the U.S. are cutting costs by hiring contractors or freelancers rather than full-time employees. It’s not entirely a bad thing; workers around the country are adapting to the so-called “Gig Economy,” and some even prefer it. But one of the downsides to freelancing, contracting or temping is that these work arrangements typically provide workers with little or no benefits, some of which can be incredibly valuable.
Consider retirement benefits like employee-matched 401(k) plans. The average household is not saving enough for retirement as it is, and, without an employer contribution or the assistance of a human resources department, there is considerably more strain on a freelancer’s efforts to build a nest egg. Whether you’re part of this new “gig” economy now or might be someday soon, it’s a good idea to have a savings cushion in place in case you’re left to fend for your own retirement or other critical benefits.
3) Rising Healthcare Costs
The good news about healthcare is that advances allow us to live healthier and longer lives. On the flip side, ever-higher healthcare costs are being passed along to consumers in the form of rising insurance premiums, deductibles and prescription co-pays. Whether you’re putting money away into a health savings account or your own personal dedicated to medical expenses, you’ll be glad that you set aside money when an unforeseen medical bill arrives.
It goes without saying that some of the forces reshaping the economy are outside of your control, but you can control how prepared you are to respond to them. A safety net is by no means easy to establish, but you will thank yourself for having done so if any of the above factors hit home.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC