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May 31, 2011


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No problem.

I actually had to do this 4 yeas ago but with $5k to replace the sewer line from the house to the street. The priceless cost to flush a toilet.

Most of our friends said they would not know what to do if the faced a bill like that.

My answer is exactly the same as yours, charge it for the rewards, then pay off with the extra money in the checking account.

Yes, I could get $2000 together but could still do a better job of managing finances. Just planning on continuing to grow and learn.

I've been able to meet this since my 3rd paycheck of my first full time job- never looked back since.

It is unbelievable to see a significant number of my countrymen in this position.


It is quite scary that only 25 percent of those making 100-150k could come up with 2,000 dollars. Especially given people making that kind of money are probably not real young, they should be people that have been working for years.

I would definitely charge it and just pay it off. I have already had to do this a couple times this year because of some medical bills and such.

I used to be able to, and then I had to so I can't anymore. Hopefully nothing else pops up before things even out again.

No problem for us. I have the money today. The thing that kills me is that in a month people couldn't figure out how to cut expenses and raise extra cash (by selling things and/or finding extra work) to come up with the funds.

I have $1,000 saved up for emergencies while paying down debt. It might be a struggle to get the extra $1,000 in a hurry, but it is likely doable.

Right now it's just a quick transfer from online savings away. Statistics about the "average" American scare me.

I was able to for a while, but just put down 6k for a that cushion no longer exists. Gonna take a little while to build back up but I'll get there.

I always have that much in checking alone so this would be no problem for me at all. I was surprised at how few could have this within 30 days. that's a long time.

The median household income in the US is close to $50,000 per year, or around $2000 every 2 weeks. Yet roughly half of US households (including many making well above the median) have trouble coming up with $2000 within a month. That's kind of frightening.

Yes, we could come up with 2k in an emergency, and I thank God for that. He has given us the wisdom to give, spend less then we earn, and to save. Having some money in the bank and easily available does give some peace.

That blows my mind.
/had to come up with 1.2k unexpected last December for some emergency electrical work in the house
//will have to come up with 3k this year for medical copay / pregnancy stuff (although technically not unexpected)

With everything that has hit my family in the past few years (layoffs, kids, moving, etc.) I can not imagine where we would be if we didn't keep an emergency fund. Probably not very financially secure. I stress about rebuilding the emergency fund because I feel like that money has to come from either what we put into retirement or extra money that we use to pay down the house, but I can't imagine not even having it, and how desperate any of those events in the past two years would make us.

We wouldn't have any problem with this at our house.

What scares me the most for "the average American" is that the not only couldn't they come up with the cash, but they have also maxxed out their credit cards enough to not be able to use them for this emergency!

We are teaching our children by what we do - not what we say. I only gets worse generationally!

I just did it. I had to replace a fridge after it died from 21 years of service and replaced a set of tires on the car. Put it all on the AMEX to get the cashback and just paid off the card yesterday.

No problem. Although it would take a bit of work to replace it. It's there it just doesn't accumulate very quickly.
We have more than 2k in our "emergency fund" and could borrow from our "next car fund" if more was needed.

For the record, we're both 25 with one child and I stay home with said child - so we're not rolling in money. It's sad to me that others making so much more (100k-150k) than us don't know how they'd come up with 2k in an emergency.

This article is indeed worrying/frightening, but I have a feeling that if you were to say to those 50% of respondents, "So if you needed lifesaving medication that cost $2,000, you'd have no possible (legal) way of obtaining it?", that they'd say that is not the case. I would expect that many of these people were not considering sources such as credit cards, payday loans, or selling assets when answering the question - probably many assumed they had to have a cash source and limited their though processes to ordinary income and borrowing from friends or family.

That said, the number is surely still very high, which is sad.

We keep a $60,000 emergency fund ready at all times so $2,000 wouldn't be a problem at all.

Okay, now I don't feel sooo bad for myself. However, the numbers are frightening. I've been reading FMF for years and rebuilding my E-fund. I am a single/divorced mother of 3, and yes, I can definitely come up with 2K cash in an emergency.

I have to say, I am not shocked at the number of people making 6 figure salaries that cannot come up with 2K in an emergency. Even at that level, people live way beyond their means and do not save. I hope I don't sound self-absorbed, but I feel lightened now. I guess I'm not as bad off as I thought.

"The Agriculture Department said 39.68 million people, or 1 in 8 Americans, were enrolled for food stamps during February"

12.5% of the US population is on food stamps.
More than half of all Americans (59%) receive a Government payout in one form or another.

I looked it up a while ago and I think you have to prove that you dont have more than $2000 in liquid assets to qualify for food stamps.

The study by MSNBC is depressing, but it shouldn't be surprising to anyone paying attention.

Apart from each of us having a substantial savings account we have cash back credit card limits totalling $70,000. I never asked for such high limits but have had the cards a long time and a few years ago AMEX and MasterCard kept increasing the limits without my asking them to.

If for some totally unforseen reason I needed a lot of ready money I could also get a margin loan from Fidelity Investments. It's very fast, easy, no paperwork, no signatures, the rates are very competitive and the cash would show up in my account right away.

What would you expect from an immigrant that used to deliver newspapers as a kid, has always lived well below his means, is a great saver, and married a woman with his same values.

The motto of the story is:
If you don't need money it's probably very easy to get it.
If you need money desperately you may find it very hard to obtain - That's why we have Loan Sharks.

As of November 2010 the number on food stamps has grown to 43 million or 14.2% of the population. It's probably grown since that data was published.

You are correct- I inadvertently quoted old data.

According to the WSJ: Nov 2011 43 million or 14.2% of the population (Your numbers but 2011 not 2010)

If anyone thinks that 14.2% is a sign of widespread poverty, how about these percentages:
DC 21.9%
MS 20.7%
TN 19.9%
OR 19.6%
NM 19.4%
MI 19.4%
LA 19.1%
The surprising one to me was OR.

Yes this is pretty astonishing. I've had $2000 at least in the bank since my first part-time job in high school.

I'm also amazed at the food stamp numbers. Seriously, food is cheap.


Well, crappy food is cheap (fast food, junk food). Nourishing, healthy food is certainly not cheap. We consider ourselves very blessed to be in the position we are.

We are able to come up with the $2000 mentioned immediately. We just bought a house in the last three months so we are looking to push the emergency fund to 6-9 months. We pushed our Dave Remsey baby emergency fund from $1000 to $5000 recently to cover those nasty sewer/water line and roofing disasters that can pop up.

I have a lower income, and $2,000 is a fortune, but regardless, I can still come up with it in 5 minutes. I've had a low income for my entire life, so saving has always been a TOP priority. When you live at poverty level, you never know when you might need money, so any extra dime I've had, has gone into savings. Then again, I've had 40 years to accumulate this emergency fund, so thanks to God, I can cope with small emergencies. (Any major one though, such as medical, would bankrupt me).

@Evan H.: I have to disagree.

I've raised 2 kids and it's actually fast food and junk food that are expensive--because they don't give you much for your dollar. Actually, you shouldn't waste any of your money on that stuff--nothing is more expensive that that non-food.

Real food (fresh vegetables, meat, rice, milk, cheese) is actually quite inexpensive. Just ignore the frozen food section. Steam some veggies and rice, throw some hamburger on the grill or make stew & you'll do fine.

@Evan H: I'm alsow with MC on this one...Whole heat couscous (from Trader Joes) and lentils with chopped up carrots is a cheap, nutritious, and fast meal. Junk food is often not cheap at's just that people don't know which foods to look for.

And yes, I could come up with 2K. I'm like most others posted...I'm very sad at what passes for "average". People in other countries can do it. What the heck is our problem? And don't tell me the cost of living in other developed countries is lower. In most other countries, especially Europe & Japan it's actually higher.

Nourishing, healthy food is definitely cheaper than junk food.

It's laziness, not cost, that keeps people from eating healthy.

I totally agree with MC and others about the Real Food vs Fast Food debate.
If you shop wisely and look for the seasonal specials, particularly in fruits and vegetable, nutritious, healthy, appetizing, meals can be prepared at home, but the preparation involves a lot more than opening a box and putting the contents (salt, preservatives and all) into a microwave oven.

Since we retired we often go food shopping together and I have been amazed to find that she has skills that I never realized in my working days when I seldom went inside a supermarket. Fortunately I married a woman that enjoys cooking (at least 5 days/week), we like to eat out the other two.

Typically, my family would always have over $2k in our checking account. We've really dwindled down since buying & renovating a fourplex, but I think we would still be able to get the money within a day if necessary.

even in europe where income is not that high when you compare it with the USA. (taxes and social security kills us) 2k is no problem for me. i will have it within a few minutes when i'm near a computer.

a while ago i had to pay for new car tires 500 € i didn't even need to change my savings for that month.

Tyler, where did you get that 59% figure from?? Frankly that number seems a little unbeleivable. Unless their definition of 'government payout' is extremely broad and includes medicare, VA benefits, pensions, social security and other things people paid into, still 59% seems inflated.

I found this :
"Also, an estimated 59% of the 308.7 million Americans in this country get at least one federal benefit, according to the Census Bureau, based on 2009 data. An estimated 46.5 million get Social Security; 42.6 million get Medicare; 42.4 million get Medicaid; 36.1 million get food stamps; 12.4 million get housing subsidies; and 3.2 million get Veterans’ benefits."

I assume this is the source.

If you add up all those figures it comes to about 183.2M which is 59% of the population.

HOWEVER there is overlap between those programs of course. Social security and medicare are almost 100% overlap. Medicaid, food stamps and housing subsidies also certainly have pretty high overlap. If you account for the overlap then you're looking at closer to 30% or half that 59% figure. And of course its not as if all of these are handouts either. Social Security is something we've all paid into and all deserve to get, hardly welfare. VA benefits are also hard earned benefits, rather than welfare. I don't think of our grandparents generation and veterans as leeches on society as if the article seems to want to imply.

About 14% of the population is receiving actual handouts.

For the last 6 years, I could do it. We were deep in cc debt and it took 15 years to get clear of it. We owed 2 bills (a used car & a pickup transmission) when I retired and my first withdrawal from my 503b cleared us of debt.

My husband is gone and I still get his retirement. I try every month to put that payment away. So far I have about 3 months emergency fund, which I am trying to build up faster, as I may need another car in the near future.

Also, I use my 503b only for home improvements. So, I could withdraw from that (the minimum) to cover a $2k bill. Currently we have paid in full for a complete new roof on our doublewide, all new double-paned windows, a furnace & central air and insulated siding. My home is free & clear and I have no debt. It is a ridiculously wonderful place to be in retirement.

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