Could You Come Up with $2,000 in 30 Days?

A substantial fraction of seemingly middle-class Americans are “financially fragile” in the sense that they’d be unable to come up with $2,000—the cost of a major car repair or legal or medical expense—within 30 days, says a team led by Annamaria Lusardi of George Washington University. Specifically, nearly half of Americans surveyed in 2009 reported that they “probably” would be unable to come up with that sum, and one-quarter of the total were “certain” they couldn’t. Those in the “probably” group would seek to raise funds by doing such things as tapping family and friends, increasing their work hours, or selling their possessions.

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