Gen Z Would Have the Most Trouble Paying a $400 Emergency Expense

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Millennials, you think you have money problems? Try switching places with Generation Z and see how you like that.

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Nearly three out of five Gen Z consumers living paycheck to paycheck can’t scrape up enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense, according to a new report from PYMNTS and LendingClub.

The report — called “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report” — was released February 14 and includes data from a December survey of 3,070 U.S. consumers who describe themselves as living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to pay bills.

About half of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to handle an emergency expense of $400 based on their current financial situations. Generation Z respondents had the highest percentage, at 59%. They were followed by Gen X respondents (51%), bridge millennials (46%), millennials (44%) and baby boomers/seniors (42%).

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The survey also found that consumers who live paycheck to paycheck and struggle with their bills are more likely to sell something, borrow from family members or friends, or use a credit card to pay an emergency expense than they are to use money from a checking or savings account.

Nearly half of respondents who live paycheck to paycheck but don’t struggle to pay bills would cover emergency expenses with money from their checking or savings accounts. But again, the percentage is much lower for Generation Z respondents, at 34%.

People who are forced to live on a small budget can take steps to stretch their dollars further, such as finding banks that provide high annual percentage yields, getting rid of debt, shopping out of season and hitting the discount stores.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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