"If you get a raise, take half of the raise and add it to your savings and keep the other half," he says. "You're not taking anything away; you're just getting less of an increase."
If need be, put your savings systems on autopilot, such as direct deposit from your paycheck. "Make it palatable so that you can sustain it," says Kimberly Foss, CFP and president of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville, Calif.
Don't be afraid to start small. Those first few baby steps can put you on the path to surviving the next financial emergency. "If you can't save $500 per paycheck, start with $50," Foss says. "Then do $50 again on the second paycheck that month. The next month, bump the total saved up to $125 or $150. The following month, save $200."
This month's Financial Security Index also found more Americans feeling uncomfortable with their level of savings in general, 39 percent versus 35 percent in May. But on a brighter note, "consumers' comfort level with debt reached a new high, with 26 percent saying they're more comfortable and only 19 percent saying they're less comfortable with their debt relative to 12 months ago," says McBride.
The Financial Security Index for June was down slightly, to 97.8, from 98.5 in May. While minor, the drop could indicate that the succession of natural disasters and negative economic news is beginning to wear on the minds of consumers.
View the accompanying slideshow and poll results for full coverage of this month's Financial Security Index survey.
The Financial Security Index survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, or PSRAI, with a nationally representative sample of 1,006 adults living in the continental United Sates. Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from June 2-5, 2011. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±3.6 percentage points.