Everyone should have an emergency fund. No matter what your financial situation is, whether you have accumulated debt or are comfortably budgeting all of your expenses, there is always a benefit to having money set aside for an emergency.
While most people agree that having an emergency fund is wise, they may ask “how much emergency fund do I need?” We’ve prepared some guidelines to help you get started
How Much Emergency Fund Do I Need?
$1,000 Emergency Fund
A good goal to start with when asking “how much emergency fund do I need” is to start with $1,000. This may seem like a daunting amount to save, but you can build up to it slowly. By saving as little as $20 a week the fund will be complete within a year. If $20 seems impossible to save each week, start by looking for unnecessary expenses (like eating out) and quitting cutting back on those items to accomplish your goal. Tracking your spending will help you see the areas where you could potentially save more.
Three Months’ Salary Emergency Fund
Ideally, most experts recommend that consumer should look to save roughly three months of their equivalent salary for their emergency fund. This ensures that if you were to lose the main source of income for your family, you would have a cushion of at least three months to get back on your feet. While unemployment and other government funds may help to alleviate some of the pressure on your finances in the event of unemployment, a rainy-day fund of three-months of your current salary will help to avoid car repossessions, utility shut-offs, and other financial pitfalls.
Six Months’ Expenses Emergency Fund
Once you’ve managed to save enough for a three month rainy day fund, continuing to save until you have six months of expenses saved may be a wise idea. An emergency fund that covers 6 months allows you to pay all your necessary expenses without worrying while you deal with anything that comes up, ranging from illness, long term unemployment, family changes or the death of a loved one. As you continue to save, you can speak with a financial planner about the best way to keep your money working for you while you save. There are a variety of investment possibilities that can help you maximize your funds.
Do I need to save more?
A wise saver will understand that their emergency fund is simply a part of their financial strategy. Saving for your future and for retirement is an important part of mapping our your finances to ensure that you achieve your financial goals.
Make a habit of saving and contributing to your retirement accounts starting as early as possible so your funds can build over your career. Take advantage of any employer matching programs that will help build your funds. Not taking advantage of matching programs is like leaving money offered on the table and walking away!
An emergency fund is a part of a secure financial future. Don’t fall into the temptation to believe that if you can’t save a large sum, you can’t save anything. When it comes to savings, every bit you save is better than nothing at all!
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.