Have you ever found yourself in an emergency that cost you money but you didn’t have the cash to pay for it? How frustrating was that? I know I’ve found myself in that situation before and it’s not fun. Today, Ariel is sharing with us 7 reasons you should start building your emergency fund right now and how to do it!
Ariel is a Mid-Western wife and stay-at-home mom to four kiddos. She is a freelance writer, homeschooling mom, and blogs about the challenges of motherhood at A Meaningful Motherhood.
She loves books, coffee, and avocados.
As my husband and I drove down the highway, he asked me a question that made my stomach sink.
“If our tires went out,” he said slowly. “Would we have money the money to replace them?”
I could feel my face redding. “No,” I said quietly.
Have you ever had a similar conversation, or thought, “How are we going to pay for this?” Though it was uncomfortable, it revealed to us that if an unexpected situation popped up that needed financial attention, it would cause a panic.
We were among the 40% of Americans that would be in deep trouble because we could not afford a $400 unforeseen expense.
This was the start of realizing how important it was to build our emergency fund.
Having an emergency fund is critical to maintaining financial health. Unexpected expenses like broken windows, water-logged cell phones, or sick kiddos do happen, and making sure we’re prepared for them is essential to keep ourselves out of debt.
While it might not always cover every expense, having a nice cushion in the bank can make the inconvenience more palatable.
This post is part of the Saving More, Spending Less Series. You can read the other posts here:
- 6 Ways to Save Money When You’re Broke
- 5 Easy Ways to Start Saving Money for Christmas Now
- 5 Ways Your Family Can Save Money on Healthcare Expenses
- My Top 5 Secrets to Save More Money
- 3 Biblical Principles That Will Help You Manage Your Finances This Holiday Season
- 3 Things the Bible Says About Money and How to Manage Your Finances Better
Here are 7 reasons why building your emergency fund is important.
Keeps you out of debt
While some people keep a credit card on hands for emergencies, I’m of the opinion that this only leads to problems – and I have personal experience behind it!
The emergency credit card soon became the I-forgot-to-pack-my-kids-a-lunch-so-Chick-Fil-A-it-is card. Or the, it’s-ok-if-I-spend-a-teeny-bit-more-at-the-grocery-store card.
This downward spiral only hurt us and didn’t help us understand what a true emergency was. A cash emergency fund is the way to go.
People get sick
If you’re a parent you know that taking your kiddos to the doctor can be pricey, and sometimes, if you’re really pinching pennies, that copay could be the difference between getting help or staying home.
Knowing that you have a few hundred to a few thousand dollars tucked away can help alleviate that trip, especially if your child needs emergency attention or rounds of medication that may not be covered by insurance.
Children are not the only ones that pass around germs. Adults can get sick, too!
For me, a credit card posed too many temptations, and I knew I didn’t have the strength to keep one.
When my son broke a window, it was estimated that it could cost us $700 to replace!
Windows are not the only thing prone to breakage around your home. Pipes, overflowing toilets, broken furniture – you name it! If you own a home, chances are something at some point is going to break.
Having someone come to evaluate your situation could cost a fee, in addition to any repairs. Knowing you have a fund geared towards these kinds of problems can lighten this financial burden.
Oh, how I have a love-hate relationship with cars. As a homeschooling mom of four kiddos, it’s imperative to my brain that we escape from the house some days! This means I love my van. But when it needs repairs, I’m often aghast at the costs.
As mentioned above, cars need regular maintenance to function properly. They do wear down and break, and someone (or you!) can have accidents.
While insurance may help cover some of those costs, they may not cover everything. And if something goes awry with your car parts, that’s an out-of-pocket expense if it’s not covered by warranty.
You unexpectedly lose your job or have your hours cut
This was another turning point for my husband and me.
As a one-income family at the time, the thought of my husband losing his job left us with dread. How could we feed our kids, or manage our family without a steady cash flow?
An emergency fund can help you stay on your feet with rent or mortgage payments, food, gas, and other necessary expenses while you’re job searching.
Emergency out-of-town trips
Living far away from family is difficult, but even more difficult if they’re suffering from an emergency and you can’t be there because of financial hardship. A healthy emergency fund allows you to take that trip and be together with your family.
A family emergency is one thing, but if your company sends you on a business trip last minute and you need to fund it, you can do so.
Protect your furry friend
Our golden retriever is highly allergic to bees, and we learned this the hard way, especially after a hefty dose of steroids and an eye-popping vet bill.
For most people, pets are like family, and we’ve invested our money and time into training and providing for them.
When they become sick or break a bone (or get stung by a bee), we seek out medical attention. And just like a physician, their bills can be costly if we’re unprepared.
How do you start building your emergency fund?
It’s actually pretty easy! Simply open another bank account and decide how much you want to begin stocking away each paycheck. Have a goal in mind and work towards that goal!
At first, you may have to make some sacrifices to build your emergency fund, but it will be worth it, especially if you’re face-to-face with a smoking car engine.
How much should I be saving for unexpected emergencies?
This will vary based on family size and other factors, but the general idea is anywhere from $1000-2000. Because we’re a family of six, ideally we’d like to keep it more than that, but that’s simply our preference.
Start building your emergency fund today!
All in all, an emergency fund gives you a greater peace of mind when faced with unexpected expenses.
If you haven’t had any emergencies yet (whew!) you most definitely will. Be prepared and plan ahead, and those rough times will not be as bad as they could be.