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The Source: A Surprise Big Bill Would Send Many Texas Families Scrambling

Pew Charitable Trusts


In 2014, 50 percent of American Households ran a deficit, they lost money. Today, a third of all Americans - 72 million - have no savings set aside at all. While we hear that the country as a whole is doing better at saving, many experts think we are still far from where we should be. 

Right now an unexpected bill could mean disaster for a family. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, families of color are extremely vulnerable "A quarter of black households would have less than $5 if they liquidated their financial assets." Financial shocks don't have to be enormous to wipe out a family's savings. In fact, studies have shown that many people blame these unexpected bills for their lack of savings, as much as 71 percent.

According to Woody Widrow at RAISE Texas, those living in the lowest income brackets get a bad rap for not saving. He says much of the savings from middle and upper income families come from auto-deduction like 401Ks and other programs that rely on an financial infrastructure and incentives that simply doesn't exist for the poor. How can we improve that infrastructure and create the incentives to improve the numbers?

Why aren't you saving, and what impact would an unexpected bill have on your family?


  • Clinton Key, researcher officer in the financial security and mobility project  for the Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Woody Widrow, executive director of RAISE Texas, an advocacy group dedicated to helping lower income brackets understand and build wealth
  • Nancy Hard, President and CEO of Family Service Association of San Antonio

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive