ST. LOUIS (4/9/12)--An online survey of more than 1,100 Missouri credit union members indicates that 42% have no emergency savings.
The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) statewide survey of members' saving and purchasing habits also revealed that less than 30% have enough savings to last four months or more.
Barry Brakeville, corporate communications director of $1.8 billion asset CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas City, Mo., said in an MCUA release that the survey should be a "wake-up call" for credit unions. He noted that "consumers should expect their financial institution to be a partner in helping them achieve financial freedom."
Many survey comments reflected that members are worried about their lack of savings and frustrated by an inability to save, with 58% reporting they were "not at all happy" with their savings balance. For example, one respondent commented, "It's impossible to save money if you can't get a job," while another responded, "We had a year's worth of savings before my husband lost his job."
Financial experts typically recommend building an emergency savings account that can cover three months' worth of expenses. Heather DeMint, vice president of marketing at $117 million asset United CU, Mexico, Mo., said the credit union doesn't suggest an actual dollar amount for members to save, but instead encourages them to save on budget items such as insurance, cell phone plans and cable television.
"Credit reports can help consumers pinpoint ways to save," DeMint said. "Often times, we suggest debt consolidation via low-rate credit card or home equity lines of credit."
The survey collected members' responses throughout January 2012.