A new study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute finds that individuals at all income levels have experienced high levels of income volatility, and even higher levels of spending volatility. 70 percent of individuals experienced an annual change in income of at least 5 percent between 2013 and 2014. Only 30 percent saw consistent income between 2013 and 2014. The study found that spending was even more volatile than income. 84 percent of individuals experienced monthly changes of at least 5 percent over the course of 2013 and 2014. ‘You could see you income drop at the same time you have a necessary increase in consumption, like a health care bill or a car breakdown, ‘said Diana Farrell, President and CEO of the Institute. ‘That exposes people to a real liquidity crunch, a cash flow crunch and we’ve found people have not saved enough to withstand that volatility.’ According to the study, a typical middle-income household needed a financial buffer of approximately $4,800 in liquid assets – roughly 14 percent of annual income after taxes – to sustain the typical monthly fluctuations in income and spending observed during the time frame. But they had only $3,000 in liquid holdings.

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