Bankrate.com chief financial analyst Greg McBride says we're foolish.
"People like their stuff and they've fallen into the habit of spending first and trying to save what's left over and it just doesn't work."
McBride says he's a big proponent of doing a better job teaching basic economics in schools.
"We as a society suffer when people don't have financial literacy and make mistakes that lead to financial troubles down the road."
When disaster strikes that 40% typically goes further into credit card debt. McBride says that's a bad idea.
"Credit card rates are going higher and higher; the average credit card rate right now is knocking on the door of 17% -- that's an all-time high -- and as the Federal Reserve continues to raise benchmark interest rates those credit card rates are going to continue to go higher."
McBride says if parents won't teach kids to save, he'd like to see the schools place more of an emphasis on teaching economics.