Building an emergency fund can be a crisis in itself for plenty of Americans.
Although financial advisors typically recommend consumers stash away at least three months' worth of living expenses, and ideally, six months' worth, few have hit the mark. More than a quarter have no emergency savings, according to a Bankrate.com study released earlier this year. Of those who do, two-thirds have less than that the six-month target.
Eking out more savings can be a dismaying prospect, with budgets already stretched entering the holiday season and credit card debts mounting. "People tell me they can't afford to save," said Gail Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. "You can't afford not to."