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Show-Me Data: Missourians Lack Savings

While Missourians recover from a national recession, a new statewide survey suggests that most are ill prepared for a financial emergency. Conventional wisdom suggests that every consumer should have about three months worth of savings for unexpected situations. According to a recent survey by the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) that measured savings and purchasing habits, less than 30 percent of respondents reported having enough savings to last four months or more, and 42 percent reported having no savings at all.

These numbers reflect a national trend as job loss and reduced consumer spending impact the labor force. When asked how satisfied respondents were with their current amount of savings, 58 percent reported they were “not at all happy.” Using the survey’s comment fields, respondents expressed worry and frustration. “It’s impossible to save money if you can’t get a job.” “We had a year’s worth of savings before my husband lost his job.” “I have no savings. I need to learn money management.”    

“Helping members become financially successful is a foundational tenet for credit unions,” says Barry Brakeville, corporate communications director of CommunityAmerica Credit Union, a nationally recognized industry leader in adult financial literacy. “This survey can and should serve as a wake-up call for many, and consumers should expect their financial institution to be a partner in helping them achieve financial freedom.”

Almost half of all respondents set a savings goal for 2012, and most believe they will achieve it. Respondents plan to increase savings by reducing spending, using coupons and eliminating vacations.   

“We don’t suggest an actual dollar amount for members to save, instead we encourage savings on budgetary items like insurance, cell phone plans and cable,” says Heather DeMint, United Credit Union vice president of marketing. “Credit reports can also help consumers pinpoint ways to save. Often times, we suggest debt consolidation via low-rate credit card or Home Equity Lines of Credit.”

MCUA’s online consumer survey collected responses from more than 1,100 Missouri credit union members January 1 through February 1, 2012.