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How Long Could You Survive Without a Steady Paycheck?

Emergency funds are more important than ever, but most people still haven't built theirs up enough to get through unemployment. Just take a look at the results from a recent MetLife study that asked Americans to evaluate how they'd fare if pink slips were handed to them.

50 percent of Americans say they are only one month — or only two paychecks — or less away from not being able to meet their financial obligations if they were to lose their job, and more than half of these, a startling 28 percent of the total respondents, couldn’t survive financially for more than two weeks.

How long could you get by without a paycheck?


Join The Conversation
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
syako I agree. If my boyfriend and I were married I wouldn't have to worry ever since he makes AMAZING money. Since it's just me I'd say 4 months tops.
OliveBlack OliveBlack 8 years
I have no savings, but I would just turn to ebaying for profit. That's what I did after I quit my job in December and supported myself that way until I got my current job last month. Does that count?
syako syako 8 years
so we old married ladies can't answer the question? :D
HaterTot HaterTot 8 years
@ylovely - it definitely is. I am not good at being frugal and don't like having to worry all the time. But, it's kind of an occupational hazard. This is not the first time I've been laid off (I worked in Silicon Valley in the late 90s and was very much a part of that bubble bursting), so I have worked hard to gird myself against this sort of thing - but it's hard and it sucks, and I really want that purse! ;)
ylovely ylovely 8 years
Thanks HaterTot it's definitely not been easy.
notoriousmar notoriousmar 8 years
Obviously Syako, but I would have a heck of an easier time living without a paycheck if I had a split account with my husband. I only got my money to live on (not married).
hibiscus96818 hibiscus96818 8 years
If I lost my job now I would be S.O.L. - most of my savings went to medical bills at the end of last year/beginning of this year and I just started a new job so I haven't had a chance to rebulid my savings. My father always told me to have, at the very least, the equivalent of 6 month's salary in a savings account so that is what I am working towards now.
geebers geebers 8 years
I live cheaply most of the time and saved a lot over the years so I can go for a year living as I do now. But i probably wouldn't live as I do now- I would be really careful with my funds so I bet I can stretch it to a little over a year.
syako syako 8 years
If you're married, it makes no sense to only answer the question about yourself because you share income/finances with someone else. :shrug:
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
right now - i wouldn't even be able to last a month w/o a paycheck - that is without asking my family for help. it's just really hard right now - my fiance is without a job and hasn't had one for a long time, and that means that any savings or cushion that i had is long gone.
HaterTot HaterTot 8 years
@ylovely - it's savings and honestly, luck, with good investment moves prior to this mess. And, my job is a high risk, high reward type - but I'm almost always the first to get laid off (I'm a nonprofit and/or political fundraiser). I have a highly volatile job, so I have always been careful to save knowing that unemployment was just one bad campaign/quarter/economic downturn away. Then, you prioritize. I would never take a roommate, but I'll slash my "fun money" (dining out, clothes shopping, etc.), my general food budget (no more big time "foie gras" type splurges), cut cable services, etc etc. Also, I haven't used credit in over 10 years, so I don't have those sorts of payments. (car is also paid off) It's not easy, and it took a bad financial mess many, many years ago - but I've mostly changed my ways and live entirely within my means, with enough to save. But like I said, I'm ready to go back to work, because I am NOT frugal and I saw the cutest Michael Kors purse that I need a job to justify purchasing!
Antioxidant Antioxidant 8 years
About 6 months if I didn't buy anything else and only paid my normal bills. I was unemployed for about 2 months and was scared I would lose my car, but came out unscathed.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
3 months /shame shame shame =( lol
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
Hard to say! Because if I lost my paycheck, I would make lifestyle changes, whether I needed them or not. I mean, I have the money in savings to continue getting a monthly pedicure, but without a steady paycheck I'd likely cut it out.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I think we could go for about 8 months or so before we'd have to sell off our land and cash in retirement accounts. We like to have a nice cushion of emergency money.
notoriousmar notoriousmar 8 years
I thought this question was supposed to about how long YOU could go, not you and your husband/significant other.
supercoolnat supercoolnat 8 years
If only I lost my job, probably quite a long time on just my husband's income. But that's without student loan payments (in forebearance, so the interest would accrue), and cutting out a lot of stuff. If both of us lost our jobs? 4-5 months based on my savings earmarked for emergency, but we have a bunch saved up for a down payment that we could use too - then it would probably last a couple years.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 8 years
I could probably go 4-6 months. I'd like to build up to a 1 year cushion which I should be able to do by the end of the year.
care0531 care0531 8 years
I am in the same boat where we liked to eat out, shop, and travel and we are just now cutting back on all that to start saving. I would say we would be okay for about 6 months max.
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
Wow, I'm so impressed with some of your savings skills, ladies. My husband and I would be in real trouble real fast if anything major happened to our paychecks. We've recently taken more control of our finances, though, and have started making some long term plans to help make us more secure.
Dhorwich Dhorwich 8 years
Technically I have just over a month's pay in savings but could definitely stretch that and have other side savings that could keep me going about 4 months or so. I hate even thinking about this! I got out of debt just under a year ago and should be saving more - I know!
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
We would only last about a month. But our savings are slowly growing so at least we're saving. It helps that we paid off all of our debt last summer, so we don't have any catchup to do. Luckily my husband is in a pretty secure place (We live in Nebraska and he works with tractors). I would just like to get school started again so that I will have a career to better help us out.
refinedharmony refinedharmony 8 years
If I lost my job I'd be SOL. I just started my first real world job and am trying to get my feet on the ground. It will probably be another 3 months or so until I can evaluate my finances and make a hard budget, and justify putting money into savings. :(
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
I lasted for at least four months before with no paycheck and no additional financial aid. Now, I would be one of those sad one month-ers.
bengalspice bengalspice 8 years
maybe 5 mos
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