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Many Americans admit to being in a financially unstable situation

Maintaining financial health can be quite the balancing act. We are told we need to save for retirement, have an emergency fund and have enough left over to pay bills and maybe buy a few luxury items. For most Americans, this kind of balance simply is not possible.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck and just barely paying your bills each month, chances are good that you don’t have an emergency fund. Moreover, you are not alone. According to a recent survey by the site Bankrate.com, approximately 25 percent of Americans surveyed said that they have higher amounts of medical debt than they do emergency savings. Among individuals making less than $30,000 annually, 44 percent admitted to being in this precarious situation.

The unsettling truth is that living paycheck to paycheck is kind of like doing a high-wire balancing act without a net. You are only safe as long as nothing comes along to knock you off balance. When finances are tight, a medical emergency, a vehicle breakdown or a necessary home repair can send you deep into debt. Climbing your way out is not easy, and might not even be possible on your own.

We have previously written (and it’s worth repeating) that filing for bankruptcy has nothing to do with one’s character or level of personal responsibility. Moral judgments are not appropriate or helpful. Rather, bankruptcy is a tool available to help individuals who have fallen into unmanageable debt. And as the aforementioned survey suggests, the difference between financial health and serious debt can be a single, unanticipated emergency.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “A quarter of Americans have more debt than emergency savings, report finds,” Mark Williams, Sept. 5, 2014

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