What do house fires, car accidents or an unexpected loss of job have in common? They are all sudden and out of your control.
Life events occur throughout the world every day; however, there is one sure fire thing you can do to keep a bad situation from being worse...have an emergency fund to help prevent unexpected costs from having a negative impact on your overall financial status.
An emergency fund is a safety net that helps cover expenses without breaking the bank, impacting your budget or causing you to take on more debt. Emergency savings are meant to be kept away from your other long-term savings goals and should only be used in case of an emergency.
How much should I save for an emergency? According to the Federal Reserve, four out of ten Americans can’t cover a $400 emergency expense. Knowing how unexpected life events can be, setting aside cash is important for long term stability and peace of mind. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 6-months of living expenses saved. The amount of emergency cash you save also depends on your lifestyle, committed expenses, household size and income.
Building a financial safety net is often overlooked. Determining the amount you should keep in an emergency fund can be a daunting thought. In most cases, the hardest part is getting started. Following these simple steps will help:
Step 1: Figure out the total you will absolutely need each month
These expenditures include your rent or mortgage payment, utilities, car payments, gas, groceries, phone bill, and any other necessary things you need to pay for monthly. For this example, we will use $2,000 a month for expenses.
Step 2: Decide how many months you want the emergency fund to cover
Although it is recommended to save enough for 6-months of expenses, we are going to use 3-months for this example.
Step 3: Choose how long it will take to fund your emergency savings
This number is based on the amount of money you intend to save each month. For example, we will say that we want to reach our savings goal in the next three years.
Step 4: Do the math
$2,000 * 3 = $6,000 emergency cash needed.
3 * 12 = 36-months to fund savings goal
$6,000 / 36 = $167 monthly contribution.
In this example, you will need to save $167 every month for3- years to reach that $6,000 goal in your emergency savings account.
Now that you understand how much money you need to save to build up your emergency savings, you will want to decide where to save it. It is a good idea to set up a separate account for your emergency fund to avoid the temptation of wanting to get into it for non-emergency use. A few safe options for storing your emergency fund are:
Both these options will allow you to separate yourself completely from this fund as it will be only meant for when you absolutely need it.
Depending on each individual situation, it can be difficult to proactively set aside money for emergency savings. Here are a few ideas to help you save money for a rainy day.
Bottom line is a savings plan and fully funded emergency account gives you the peace of mind to know that if something were to go wrong in life you would finally be prepared for it! With savings in place, you would not have to worry about going out and getting a high interest payday loan or racking up unwanted credit card debt. This approach to your financial well being will not only de-stress you if something unexpected was to happen but will give you a cushion for anything that comes your way.