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Here's how much money Houstonians need in case of emergency

How many quarters do you need? Photo via Getty Images

With nearly 40 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, many Texans are scrambling to afford their basic needs. A new study on how much money you need in your emergency fund should be a wake-up call.

The report, from personal finance website, suggests that residents living in Houston should be stockpiling a minimum of $17,461 to cover six months' worth of expenses in the event of an emergency.

The report analyzed the annual average expenditures and cost of living in the 50 most populous U.S. cities, and ranked them based on the estimated minimum emergency savings needed for three to six months to cover basic living expenses.

According to the study's findings, the average Houstonian's total expenditures add up to $34,828 per year. That includes the average cost of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and other miscellaneous costs.

The minimum emergency fund estimates in Houston are:

  • For a 3-month emergency fund: $8,707
  • For a 4-month emergency fund: $11,609
  • For a 5-month emergency fund: $14,512
  • For a 6-month emergency fund: $17,414

Houston ranked No. 37 out of all 50 U.S. cities with the highest projected emergency funds, so it could be a lot worse. In San Francisco, for example, which is No. 1 on the list, you'd need to put aside $52,000-plus for a six-month emergency fund.

Since these estimates are "minimum," the actual figures for Houston could tick slightly higher. But even so-called affordable cities present a challenge.

"While the emergency savings you need will vary depending on the cost of living where you live, even in the most affordable major cities in America, $500 won’t be enough to keep you afloat for one month, let alone six," the report said.

In the event of a real emergency, Texans should search, the online database for Texas Health and Human Services, featuring information on food banks, electric bill assistance, domestic violence resources, and more.

Around Texas

The Texas city with the highest six-month emergency fund is, predictably, Austin (No. 13) where annual expenses average $52,052, or $17,224 more than Houston. In Austin, the minimum six-month emergency found would need to be $26,000.

Texans living in Arlington (No. 30), Dallas (No. 31), and Fort Worth (No. 32) would need nearly $19,000 saved up to cover six months of expenses.

In San Antonio (No. 38), the estimated six-month emergency fund adds up to a little more than $17,000. El Paso (No. 48) is the Texas city with the lowest amount of money needed for six months, at $15,005.

California cities dominated the top 10 with the highest annual expenses and highest emergency funds. San Francisco took the No. 1 spot, with average annual expenses at $104,729, and an emergency six-month fund of $52,365.

The top 10 U.S. cities with the highest estimated minimum six-month emergency funds are:

  • No. 1 – San Francisco, California ($52,365)
  • No. 2 – San Jose, California ($46,258)
  • No. 3 – Oakland, California ($38,106)
  • No. 4 – Los Angeles, California ($35,160)
  • No. 5 – Seattle, Washington ($34,455)
  • No. 6 – San Diego, California ($34,396)
  • No. 7 – New York, New York ($32,363)
  • No. 8 – Washington, D.C. ($32,132)
  • No. 9 – Long Beach, California ($31,528)
  • No. 10 – Boston, Massachusetts ($31,297) collected its data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, cost of living indexes from Sperlings BestPlaces, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

The report and its methodology can be found on


This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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