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60% living paycheck to paycheck

That's up from 49% last year

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 8:07PM

This post comes from James Limbach at partner site


Counting down the hours until payday? You're not alone.

As the economic downturn trudges on, many workers are struggling with household budgets. About six in 10 workers -- 61% -- report they always or usually live paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet, compared with 49% last year and 43% in 2007, according to a new nationwide survey of more than 4,400 workers by CareerBuilder.


Thirty percent of workers with salaries of $100,000 or more report that they too live paycheck to paycheck, versus 21% in 2008.


Some workers are making ends meet by dipping into their long-term savings. More than one in five workers say they have reduced their 401(k) contributions or personal savings in the last six months to get by. Among workers earning six figures or more, a nearly equal number -- 23% -- report that they have also reduced their 401(k) contributions or savings.


While some workers are tapping into their long-term accounts, others are having a hard time saving anything at all. More than one-third -- 36% -- say they do not participate in any programs such as a 401(k), IRA or retirement plan, compared with 31% in 2008. In addition, one-third report that they don't put any money aside into their savings each month, while 30% set aside $100 or less per month for savings and 16% save less than $50.


"Workers are employing a variety of tactics to help make ends meet in this economy," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. "Whether it's by keeping a tighter budget, finding ways to bring in additional income or adjusting their savings strategies, workers are doing their best to weather the current storm. These good financial habits will not only help workers in the short term, but better position them for the future."


Haefner offers the following tips for riding out the economic downturn and preparing for the future:

  • Keep track of spending. Create a spreadsheet to analyze what you spend each month, including the money spent on those inevitable invisible expenses, such as a morning coffee, cab ride or afternoon snack. Once you can see where your money goes, you can clearly see where you can cut back.
  • Boost your income. One in 10 workers report taking on a second job in this economy to help make ends meet. Ask yourself if this is something you can handle on top of your current job and then pursue some viable options.
  • Speak up. Talk to your HR department and see what is available to help you save on your monthly expenses. Even though times are tough, companies are still offering flexible spending accounts, wellness benefits, retail discounts, transit reimbursement and more.

Related reading at

Published Sept. 22, 2009



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