When I got engaged to my husband, I was told by quite a few family members to start building an emergency fund. I didn’t really understand why at the time. I questioned why I needed to start so early in life. Then, the wedding plans came, the wedding, the honeymoon, new house, first baby, etc. There was barely enough money to pay the bills for awhile there. I probably should have listened! Once I wised up and realized that was a good idea, I had a mortgage, 2 car payments, student loan debt, and was pregnant with baby #3!
Do You Really Need an Emergency Fund?
Some may question the necessity of an emergency fund. After all, is it really necessary? How do you go about it? Does it need to be a huge amount? Here are some ideas and suggestions that should help answer these questions.
Is an Emergency Fund Necessary?
In my opinion, yes, an emergency fund is necessary. What form it takes can vary, but it is a good idea to have an emergency fund. This fund can help you avoid high-interest debt, and it helps reduce stress. After all, life is full of changes, many of them sudden and some not so good, and having that “cushion” can help you feel ready and calm.
How Can I Create an Emergency Fund?
First, determine your expenses. Look at three to six months’ worth of living costs and count on saving that much in a fund. This can help you keep your standard of living for a time if you lose your job, or it can cover a large expense such as vehicle repair.
Then determine how long it will take you to save that much and how much you have to take out of your paycheck each month to reach that goal.
Once you’ve determined how much you need to save and how long it will take to save it, it’s a good idea to change your mentality to put payments into the emergency fund before you pay for anything else. If you can do it by automatic deduction, go for it – see if you can have a portion of your paycheck taken out and put into a savings account. Otherwise, make it a habit to put money in your savings first and foremost, and then take care of your other expenses after.
What If You Have Low Income?
Even if you have low income, you can set aside something each month. Try saving a percentage of your income, such as 5 or 10 percent. It may take you longer, but it will accumulate.
Does It Have to Be Huge?
In short, no. An emergency fund does not have to be massive – but it certainly should cover unexpected expenses. To determine the size of your fund, consider what sorts of emergencies you’d want covered by the fund. Remember that buying insurance may be a more cost-effective way to guard against emergencies, too – evaluate the scope, likelihood, and potential cost of possible emergencies and this should give you a clearer picture of how large your fund needs to be.