Family Finances

Employers Are Helping Build Emergency Savings

October 18, 2019  • Ida Rademacher & Financial Security Program

Key Points

  • When faced with an emergency expense, many workers borrow from high-interest credit cards or raid their 401(k) ­accounts. That’s because 40% of American households struggle to cover a $400 emergency expense such as a car repair or an out-of-pocket medical bill, according to a recent Federal Reserve study.

“The median unanticipated expense is a heftier $2,000, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study.

To help employees avoid being tripped up by an unexpected event, a growing number of companies now offer rainy-day savings programs to lessen the toll that short-term money problems may take on the productivity of workers and their ability to save for retirement.

How emergency savings plans work…

Many companies use cash incentives to motivate employees to participate. Clothing maker Levi Strauss, in a program administered by the nonprofit EARN, offers a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $240 in a six-month period, for employees who contribute to an emergency savings account. SunTrust Bank gives workers as much as $1,000 in its Momentum onUp program if they complete a financial education course and agree to make contributions of at least $20 per pay period to emergency savings. The program also is offered to employees at Delta Airlines and The Home Depot.”

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