Imagine this scenario. You bite down on a popcorn kernel and break a molar in half. Ouch. Next stop: the dentist to have the tooth pulled, root canal performed, post inserted, temporary tooth made and put in, and crown added to replace the original tooth.

Total bill minus the costs of dental insurance premiums, the deductible and inflation? $2,500. Without dental insurance, probably double that. Either way, it’s a whole new kind of ouch.

That type of emergency is part of what’s fueling a trend this year in which more Americans, due to money fears generated in 2022, are focusing on setting aside money for near-term expenses instead of far-off goals. That means saving for expenses such as emergency dental work, a new computer to replace one gone black or a last-minute roofing project, rather than for retirement or college.

“Given the record-high inflation we’ve seen this past year, it’s not surprising that for the first time in the 14-year history of the [2023 Financial Resolutions] study, more people say they plan to save money for the short-term rather than the long-term as part of their New Year resolutions,” Rita Assaf, vice president of retirement planning for Fidelity Investments, says.

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