Fed survey shows 40 percent of adults still can’t cover a $400 emergency expense.

By Steve Moran

Maybe you saw that story from a few days ago titled: Fed survey shows 40 percent of adults still can’t cover a $400 emergency expense. It hit me hard in so many ways . . .

  • I was glad that was not me.

  • I cringed realizing that there were times in my life, as an adult, where a $400 emergency would have been a crisis.  

  • If it is true nationally — because we have so many folks working in our industry at the bottom of the employment stack — it is likely the number for us, for our team members is even higher.

  • It is likely impossible to know, but because we live a hand-to-mouth lifestyle, but I believe this is a problem that extends beyond our frontline staff to department heads. I bet even to some marketing directors and executive directors . . . maybe even to some regionals.

How People React to the Story

I had the story bookmarked, but had not written about it until I saw that someone I know had posted it on LinkedIn. I started reading the comments and was broken-hearted at the lack of compassion. Here are a couple of examples:

  • “Is income not high enough . . . OR does our society not know how to budget properly?”

  • “Wonder if all have cell phones, 60″ TVs, a new car every other year, Starbucks at least once-per-day, restaurants for lunch and dinner . . . “

  • “When you spend for nonsense, you won’t get far.”

In fairness, not all the comments were of this nature, but many were.  

I am even willing to acknowledge that, in most cases, the 40% are indeed victims of their own making. And yet so what? It is the reality of many of the folks in our industry who do the heavy lifting.   

Two Choices

We have two choices in how we react to this reality. The first is like the commenters, to see these people as flakes who are just irresponsible, and they are part of what we have to put up with.  

The second is to realize that they are in this position because they don’t know how to do it differently. This point of view sees this challenge as an opportunity to really help these team members grow. The best reason to do this is that we will give these individuals and their families a better life.   

But if you need something a bit more mercenary, if you can give them a measure of financial peace, you will create unbelievable loyalty to you as a leader and to your organization.

There is almost no downside to this.