The Corner


A Factoid for Our Times

Have you heard that nearly half of all Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency expense? It has been repeated a lot over the last few years, but it’s not true.

The question was about how people would choose to pay a $400 “emergency expense” — not whether or not they could pay it out of savings (or checking) if they wanted to.  . . .

It turns out that 86% would pay cash or charge it and then pay off the bill at the next statement (many consumers autopay credit card bills from checking accounts). . . .

A related follow-up question asked if a $400 “emergency expense” would prevent paying all other bills in full and on time, and 85% said it would not.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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