The good news: American financial security jumped 3% this month. The not-so-good news: Three out of 10 of us have nothing saved for a rainy day. This according to Bankrate's June survey, which found that 29% of 1,000 US adults don't have readily available funds in checking, savings, or money market accounts—the highest percentage since Bankrate started keeping tabs on savings five years ago, NBC News notes. The reason is that, while housing prices and stocks have bounced back, household income hasn't grown. "That makes it very difficult for people to ramp up their savings," says Greg McBride, Bankrate's chief financial analyst. That doesn't bode well for surprise expenses, which a 2014 American Express survey indicates pop up more often than you may think: Nearly half of respondents had an unforeseen expense last year, with car trouble, health care, and home fixes topping the list.
Part of the savings problem, McBride says, per MarketWatch: "People don't pay themselves first—they wait until the end of the month to save what's left over and then nothing is left over." When those unexpected expenses strike, folks are forced to drive up credit card balances and take out high-interest loans. A financial adviser tells MarketWatch that what you don't see can help you and recommends a monthly automatic transfer to a savings account; another adds to keep that account separate from your checking so you're not tempted to take money out of it. The goal to set for your emergency savings, experts suggest: six months' worth of income—even more if you have kids. (About one-third of us don't have anything saved for our golden years, either.)