Your Emergency Fund

March 27, 2009

These days life is full of surprises. One day we are making ends meet with something left over and then a day comes when all of that can change. One day we are gainfully employed, the next we are given a pink slip. With the unpredictability of day to day living, having an emergency fund saves worry over finances when you are already worried over other things.

What is an emergency fund? Well, it is money that you have set aside for unforeseen situations. It could be an illness in the family, loss of a job, an accident, home repairs, or a natural disaster. Whatever it is, such challenges can deplete a bank account and lead us into financial disaster.

The thing about life is that unforeseen circumstances can happen to anyone and everyone. No one is exempt from them. The best we can do is to prepare in advance so that we are not focused on money. Historically an emergency fund is roughly equal to several months’ worth of income – however these days you should increase your emergency funds to 12 months of total monthly expenses.

That is a lot of money. When you add up all the household expenses you have we could be talking about $40,000. It is hard for most people to save a little, let alone that much money.

Don’t let this stun you into doing nothing. Starting anywhere is better than not starting at all. If you can manage to save $200 dollars a paycheck, then do it. Sure, it will take a while to build up an appreciable fund, but you will still have money put aside in the event that something happens.

One way to build your emergency fund when money is low is to use bonuses, raises, and tax refunds. Instead of buying extra goodies with that raise, take the extra money from the check and add it to what you are already putting away. A tax refund will build up that emergency fund quickly.

An emergency fund saves headache. Costly home repairs can set you back several hundred dollars. An emergency fund will keep you from having to choose between having your car back and having your lights on. And when a loved one is ill, you can concentrate on them and not think about how you will pay the bills.

Start an emergency fund today. Whatever you can contribute is good. Encourage the entire family to help out. While you are building a cushion for possible emergencies, you are also teaching them to save money.

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