From car repairs to replacing old appliances to the loss of a job, an emergency fund can help you prepare for unexpected life events. You likely know you need one, but do you know how much you should have on hand – or how to start saving? Keep reading for tips and tricks on building an emergency fund.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
The general rule of thumb is to have three to six months of necessary monthly living expenses in savings. You can also assess your needs by evaluating your risk for facing these common emergency scenarios:
- Losing a job in a high-turnover industry
- Replacing an older vehicle
- Replacing a malfunctioning AC unit
- Expecting a major surgery or other medical care
These are just a few of life’s “curveballs” that would make having an emergency fund essential, but the amount you need to save depends on your own unique financial situation. In general, an emergency fund can be used to pay for large or small unplanned bills and expenses.
WHERE DO I KEEP MY MONEY?
A bank is usually considered one of the safest places to keep your money. Research fees and withdrawal limits associated with each bank account. Typically, you will want to be able to withdraw your money immediately in case of an emergency.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
- Set a goal. Define for yourself (or with your family) what constitutes an emergency. Then, set an amount that will provide you with peace of mind should an emergency arise.
- Start saving. It’s okay to start small. Consider these cost-cutting ideas.
- Make it automatic. Schedule a monthly transfer from your checking account to your emergency fund as soon as your paycheck is processed.
- Consider a side hustle. If you have exhausted all cost-saving strategies, consider earning extra income. Be sure to factor in other costs that might be associated with a new gig, like extra clothing or childcare.
Tip: Use our savings calculator to break your goal into monthly installments.
Emergency funds are growing in importance every day. You do not have to move mountains to start saving, but the sooner you begin, the better prepared you will be.
Updated August 2023
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.