Many financial experts advise keeping at least three months of living expenses squirreled away in case of an emergency, but how many Americans actually do it?

According to research from Bankrate.com, almost half of us don’t have that rainy-day fund, and that’s up a few percentage points from last year. But at least it’s getting better — back in 2006, only 39 percent of Americans had the extra cash in case they needed it.

Still, only a quarter of the people surveyed said they had saved six months of expenses, which is the cushion most analysts recommend, and another quarter said they have no savings at all.

“While we’ve seen some improvement… the bottom line is that much more progress is needed,” said Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “Having sufficient emergency savings is critical to avoiding high-cost credit card debt when unexpected expenses arise.”

But there were a couple bright spots in the survey, too — 24 percent of respondents said they’re currently in a better place financially than they were a year ago, and only a third said they’re “less comfortable with their savings” now than at this time in 2011.

[Chicago Tribune]