More Than Half of Americans Wouldn’t Be Able To Afford Their Bills and Groceries If They Lost Their Job

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What would be your immediate concern if you lost your job? In a GOBankingRates survey polling 1,002 Americans, more than half of overall Americans said they wouldn’t be able to afford their basic bills and groceries.

Let’s take a look at the data along with several tips for protecting your finances in the event of a layoff. 

If Americans Lost Their Job, These Would Be Their Immediate Financial Concerns

Nearly 37% of overall Americans surveyed by GOBankingRates said paying bills would be their immediate concern if they lost their job. 

The percentage breakdown is consistently high across all age groups. Those who would be particularly impacted are ages 45 to 54 and ages 65 and older.

Being able to afford groceries is another immediate concern for 15.77% of overall survey respondents. Of any age range, those ages 55 to 64 would have the most difficulty paying for groceries. Here’s what the percentage breakdown looks like across all age groups:

Make Your Money Work for You

Women would also struggle to afford basic bills and groceries more than men. Of the respondents surveyed, 16.34% of women said affording groceries would be their immediate concern compared to 15.16% of men. Paying bills is another disproportionate category, impacting more women (39.30%) than men (33.81%).

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Protecting Your Finances in the Event of a Layoff

If you are laid off from your job, you can begin taking steps now to protect your finances and ensure you can afford necessary bills. Here are a few suggestions that can help you.

Create an Emergency Fund

In GOBankingRates’ 2023 Women & Money survey, 17% said that not having an emergency fund was their biggest financial regret

With women especially impacted by the cost of bills and groceries, now is the time to create an emergency fund. Holley G. Cary –CFP, vice president and senior financial planner at First Horizon Advisors — recommends setting aside six to nine months’ worth of expenses as a long-term targeted balance for emergencies.

Open a High-Yield Savings Account

A high-yield savings account is a liquid savings account with a higher interest rate. If you’re looking for an account to store your emergency fund, a high-yield savings account will allow you to build interest on your savings and access the money as quickly as needed.

Avoid Tapping Into Retirement Funds

While it may seem like a good idea to put money saved for retirement purposes towards your daily expenses, try to resist making any early withdrawals from your retirement accounts. These withdrawals, according to Merrill Edge, can cost as much as 50% of the withdrawal in taxes and penalties.

Work To Pay Off Any High-Interest Debt Now

As you set aside savings for an emergency fund, make a concerted effort to pay off any high-interest debt you may have now. 

Repaying high-interest debt, in the event of a layoff, will be just as difficult as affording basic bills. Use this time to review your budget and look for expenditures that can be cut back or debt you can pay off to mitigate financial risk.

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