The financial crisis may have ebbed but Americans continue to save for rainy days.
Overall, 81% of U.S. investors say they have some form of savings they can draw from if they lose their jobs, according to a Wells Fargo-Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index survey released Monday.
Creating an emergency fund is the second-most popular reason investors save regularly, after retirement. According to the survey, 41% of investors regularly save for retirement and 24% of investors do so in case of an emergency.
Roughly half of investors who have an emergency fund say they could get by for six months or less before they would be in serious financial jeopardy, according to the survey, which was based on a random sample of roughly 1,000 adults between June 30 and July 11 who had at least $10,000 in investable assets.
Most investors (42%) keep their emergency funds in savings accounts, compared with 20% who favor short-term certificates of deposit or money market funds.
"People are just holding bigger balances in very basic kinds of ways just so they can access the money quickly," Dennis Jacobe, Gallup's chief economist, told American Banker. "As bankers know, it's a lot easier to get the money from consumers right now, but that might not always be the case once the economy turns."
Jacobe says that before the financial crisis Americans tended to think of home equity loans and credit cards as emergency funds. "I think one of the lessons consumers have learned is that the old way of doing things, where you have to have some money on your own, holds true," he added.