Ready for an emergency?
An emergency fund can help you handle an unexpected expense.
Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that if your car breaks down, you can pay for repairs without adding to your credit card balance?
That’s what an emergency fund is all about – helping you weather some of life’s storms without increasing your debt load.
We all run into what we might call short-term emergencies – new tires, fixing the furnace, dental work that can’t wait. And then there are potential long-term emergencies such as losing a job, or anything else that disrupts your income.
If you’re a young adult, I know it’s not easy to set aside money for an emergency fund. You have regular expenses such as housing, utilities, gasoline, groceries, insurance premiums and others. You may be making loan payments too.
To set up an emergency fund, the most convenient option is to create a separate savings account and ask your employer to automatically deposit money in it from your paychecks.
You can start small – maybe $50 per month – and it will add up over time. If you get a tax refund or a bonus, you can add that to your fund to help it grow faster.
How large a fund should you have? I suggest trying to set aside the equivalent of three to six months of fixed and variable expenses. If you aren’t sure what that number is, it’s good to draft a budget so you’ll have a clearer picture of where things stand.
Some people feel comfortable setting a target of $1,000 as a short-term emergency fund, then continuing to contribute to help it grow into a longer-term source of protection.
Jacqueline M. Painter is a Financial Advisor in the Everence office in Harrisonburg, Virginia.