'Shark Tank' star Kevin O'Leary: 'You have to save money'

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·2-min read

Even “Mr. Wonderful” himself still gets shocked in business.

The wheeling and dealing star of “Shark Tank” tells Yahoo Finance's The First Trade he has been surprised at the lack of savings among his employees. It hasn't set them up well to manage through the COVID-19 pandemic or future world problems that may wallop the economy.

“One thing I did learn from this pandemic is the majority of my employees — and I have 10,000-plus in my supply chain — have not saved any money. They have two weeks of salary sitting in the bank,” O’Leary said. “So I created an app called Beanstox to get my employees to put away $100. I was freaked out to find nobody in America saves any money. We could get COVID-20, or COVID-21 down the road. You have to save money.”

The inability of many people to put aside savings pre-pandemic has led to financial stress as the pandemic has raged on.

Among lower-income Americans, a recent Pew Research study showed that 46% surveyed had trouble paying their bills since the pandemic began. Roughly one-third have had difficulty making rent or mortgage payments.

Closeup on medical mask and hand disinfectant and stressed woman in background in temporary home office during the coronavirus epidemic in the house in sunny day.
A Pew Research study showed that 46% surveyed had trouble paying their bills since the pandemic began. [Getty]

The financial stress stems from how the pandemic has uprooted the U.S. economy, leading to sweeping layoffs. Pew found that 25% of adults say they or someone in their household was laid off or lost a job due to the pandemic. Roughly 15% said job loss happened to them personally.

Those on the top end of the income spectrum have obviously fared better on the savings front. The U.S. personal savings rate currently stands at 14.1%, according to Federal Reserve data, after having shot up to 33% at the height of the pandemic in April. The spike reflects those gainfully employed socking away money saved on travel, dinner, etc.

O’Leary isn’t hopeful the government will swoop in to address the savings crisis in the country, either.

“We’re not going to get stimulus,” O’Leary said.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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