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Many Americans have more credit card debt than savings

Feb 24, 2012 Philip Burgess

The balance between consumer savings and credit card debt appears woefully off-center. According to a survey released this week by Bankrate, only 54 percent of Americans have more emergency savings than total credit card debt. As many as 25 percent have more debt than savings, and 16 percent have neither. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported they are less comfortable with their savings now than they were a year ago, and only 14 percent are more comfortable. "Emergency savings remains a problem area for many Americans, which leaves them only one unplanned expense away from having high-cost debt," said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate. "Long-term unemployment, stagnant wage growth and rising household expenses are all contributing to this trend." The company's monthly Financial Security Index held at 97.3 this month, unchanged from January and tied for the highest figure since June of last year. However, readings below 100 indicate lower financial security than a year earlier. Although debt and individual net worth were little changed in February, recent improvement in overall consumer activity and employment point to improved fiscal health on the horizon.