Survey Finds Majority of Americans Live Paycheck to Paycheck

What would happen in your world if the paycheck you were expecting at the end of the week didn’t show up?

Well, if you’re like approximately three-quarters of American employees, a missed paycheck would most likely plunge you into some degree of chaos, an unfortunate but real reflection on the state of our savings habits.

According to the results of the American Payroll Association’s (APA) recent survey “Getting Paid in America,” more than 74 percent of respondents say they would experience financial difficulties if their paychecks were delayed for even just one week. According to approximately 28,893 respondents, a skipped check would make it either somewhat or very difficult for them to meet their financial obligations.

One way employees can avoid living the check-to-check lifestyle is to manage their paychecks more strategically. APA recommends starting by reviewing your tax deductions. While the idea of getting a tax refund every year is appealing, you may actually be losing money by not having less taxes withheld and more put into each paycheck. Look into online IRS Form W-4 calculators or consult an accountant to find out the right options.

It’s also a good idea to take advantage of saving strategies through direct deposit. Ask your payroll department to split your paycheck into various accounts, such as a savings account, a vacation fund or a 529 educational fund. According to APA, by setting up separate allotments to both your checking and savings accounts, you are more likely to live within your budget while still ensuring that a portion of your paycheck is automatically added to your savings.

"It's important that employees educate themselves and tap into the power of their paychecks," said Dan Maddux, executive director of the APA. "More take-home pay can be used to boost emergency savings and meet long-term financial goals."

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