55 million Americans have no emergency savings

“Many Americans are kidding themselves if they have less than three months’ worth of expenses in emergency savings and claim to have any level of comfort with that,” Bankrate’s Greg McBride said in a statement.

McBride recommends stashing at least a six-month cushion to cover anything from a dental bill to a car repair — but more if you are the sole breadwinner in your family or in business for yourself.

Generally, the likelihood of having saved at least six months of expenses increases steadily with age, Bankrate said. More than a third, or 36 percent, of boomers and 42 percent of those in the silent generation had achieved that saving milestone.

To get there, McBride suggests paying yourself first.

“Set up a direct deposit from your paycheck into a dedicated savings account. If you wait until the end of the month, nothing will be left over,” he said.

If there is, in fact, a surplus once all expenses have been paid out, “that gives you a second bite.”

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