Our recent government shutdown has been a wake-up call for many people and shows how volatile our income and savings can be. Even if you don’t have a government job, does the possibility of an unplanned bill keep you up at night?
If your simple oil change turned into new brakes and rotors, do you have the cash to cover the bill? Could you write a check to cover the expense of a new furnace if your system went out on the coldest day of the year? If you were laid off from your job, do you have the ability to live without a pay check for 4 weeks?
If you can’t answer yes to these questions, you are not alone. According to Forbes (1) 44% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 unexpected expense.
Having an emergency savings fund is critical not only to your financial security but also for your emotional and physical health.
EMERGENCY FUND DEFINED
An emergency fund is money you set aside for life’s unexpected events. The purpose is to prevent adding to your debt or making poor decisions in time of stress.
The funds should be used for items that are true emergencies such as the furnace going out, a leaky roof or a hospital visit. Seeing a sale on flat-screen TVs or funding a vacation does not constitute an emergency.
SIZE OF FUND
Typically, you should have 3- 6 months of family expenses saved in your emergency account. The more stable your income and household are, the less you need in your emergency fund.
If you have a consistent, two-income household then a three-month emergency fund is usually acceptable. If you’re a one-income family, you are self-employed, you earn straight commission or support someone with chronic health issues, then a six-month emergency fund is more preferred.
LOCATION OF FUND
Your emergency fund should be someplace that is easy to access. The best option is a simple savings account that has debit card or check-writing privileges. That way, you can pay your doctor or mechanic quickly and easily.
It is important that you keep your emergency fund in a completely separate account from other funds. This will allow you to always know the exact balance and help you to manage your emergencies quicker.
There are many ways to build up your Emergency Fund. Some of the quickest and easiest are:
- Adjust your budget
Review your current budget to determine where you can temporarily reduce spending until your emergency fund has been built.
- Sell something
Take inventory of everything in your household. Determine if there is anything you haven’t used in the last year. Almost every household has items that can be quickly sold and converted to cash.
- Additional income
Having a “Side Hustle” has become very common today. Look into getting a part-time job, babysitting, delivering groceries, tutoring, renting that space above the garage or “Ubering” someone across town.
Saving 6 months of expenses can sound like an overwhelming task. It’s ok if it takes a year or two to get to your desired savings amount. The important part is to determine the amount needed, build a plan to accomplish your goal and start adding to your fund on a consistent basis.
At Kuderer Financial we help our clients put together a simple 3 step plan to get their emergency account funded quickly. Contact us today to start building your secure future.