Welcome to Day 4 of the Master Your Money course!
An emergency fund is something I believe everyone should have. However, according to a report by Bankrate.com, 26% of Americans have no emergency fund whatsoever.
According to this same report, only 40% of families have enough in savings to cover three months of expenses, with an even lower percentage having the usually recommended six months worth of savings.
This is frightening to me, as having an emergency fund can greatly help a person get through tough parts in life.
There are many other reasons to have a fully-funded emergency fund:
- An emergency fund can help you if you lose your job. No matter how stable you think your job is, there is always a chance that something could happen where you may need money fast. What would you do if you lost your job and didn’t have an emergency fund?
- An emergency fund is wise if you do not have great health insurance. It can help you in case you have to pay a medical expense or a deductible.
- An emergency fund is a good idea if you have a car. You just never know if it may need a repair.
- An emergency fund is a need if you own a home. One of the lucky things that homeowners often get to deal with is an unexpected home repair. Having an emergency fund can help you if your basement floods, if a hole in your roof forms, and more.
- An emergency fund can protect you in many other areas as well. This can include if you have a medical cost for your pet, if you have to take time off work for something, you need to go somewhere far to visit someone who is sick, and so on. The list of reasons for why you might need an emergency fund can be a long one.
Emergency funds are always good to have because they can give you peace of mind if anything costly were to happen in your life. Instead of building onto your stress because of whatever has happened, at least you know you can afford to pay your bills and worry about more important things.
An emergency fund is also wise to have because it can help prevent unnecessary debt. There are too many people out there who count on their credit cards as their emergency fund and that is not a good idea. It can lead to debt spiraling out of control because of high interest rates.
Below is what you need to know about emergency funds.
Should you have an emergency fund if you are in debt?
Yes! I still think you should have an emergency fund even if you have debt. If you have debt, then the usual recommended amount is to have $1,000 in your emergency fund before you start paying down your debt.
After that amount, you need to determine what you are comfortable with.
How much should be in an emergency fund?
The next question I often hear is “How much should be in an emergency fund?” How much money you decide to keep in your emergency fund is dependent on your specific situation. If you don’t have debt, then I usually recommend at least six months of expenses.
Where should you keep an emergency fund?
Your emergency fund is there so that when you need money fast, you can use it. Due to this, you will want to put your money in a place where you can easily take it out. This means you do not want to be penalized for taking the money out and you probably don’t want to invest it in a high risk investment as you don’t want to lose it either.
I prefer keeping an emergency fund in a low risk savings account, such as any basic savings account that you will find at a bank. This way it is easily accessible in case anything were to happen and I needed the money quickly.
You can also save your emergency fund in a CD and/or money market account so that you can earn a little in interest. Keep in mind though that you might earn more in interest because there is a more risk.
How can I save enough money to fully fund my emergency fund?
After reading all of the above, I bet you cannot WAIT to start your emergency fund It may be hard in the beginning to start saving for your emergency fund, but everyone has to start somewhere and it’s always best to be prepared for when you need money fast. You can save money for your emergency fund by setting out a certain amount out of each paycheck, or you can work towards making extra money so that you can build up your emergency fund even quicker.
Well, that’s it for today. Tomorrow you will receive the next lesson that will teach you how to make saving money fun. Stay tuned!
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner MakingSenseofCents.com