What is an emergency fund? Read on to learn all you need to know.

You have undoubtedly heard the expression “saving for a rainy day” at least once in your life. It’s a method of telling you to save money in case you face any difficult circumstances in the future. 

If the recent past has taught us anything, it’s that financial catastrophes don’t just happen during certain times of the year. 

And those days when it rained, as you had been forewarned? They occasionally go on for months or even years. That’s why you need an emergency fund to aid you through life’s unforeseen financial storms.

What is an emergency fund

What is an Emergency Fund

A contingency fund, usually referred to as an emergency fund, is money set aside particularly to cover any significant, unforeseen expenses you may incur. 

It acts as a safety net for your finances, ensuring that you have the means to deal with the issue without going into debt or having trouble paying your expenses.

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4 Uses Of Emergency Funds 

Emergency funds are used to pay for: 

  1. Unexpected costs for health care and dentistry 
  2. Extensive home repairs (HVAC system, plumbing, electrical, etc.) 
  3. Replacements for home appliances (for necessity, not aesthetics) 
  4. Major automobile repairs 

Simply put, emergency savings are used for unforeseen, urgent, and time-sensitive needs and occurrences in life. 

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What Not to Do with an Emergency Fund 

Never use your emergency fund for anything else than a genuine emergency. Contrast it with long-term savings for realistically predictable expenses, even if they can be regarded as vital.

If you want your emergency fund to safeguard you in times of genuine, unforeseen financial difficulty, you must refrain from using it on non-emergencies like: 

  1. Vacations 
  2. Deposit payments (including homes and cars) 
  3. Weddings 
  4. Presents for special events and shopping excursions 

Read – How to Read a Cheque in 9 easy steps.

How to Create an Emergency Fund 

Committing to an emergency fund from the outset is the most crucial decision you’ll make. 

The following five actions will put you on a good path to creating a contingency fund: 

  1. Create a budget
  2. Start small
  3. Save consistently
  4. Increase your contributions
  5. Keep up the momentum 

1. Create a budget. 

Make a personal budget if you don’t already have one. This will enable you to track your spending and calculate the amount you’ll require for your emergency fund to meet costs for three to six months. 

2. Start Small 

This will act as the starting point for your rainy-day fund and give you the money you need to handle a smaller emergency right away.

3. Save Consistently 

Get into the practice of consistently adding money to your emergency fund, even if it’s just a few dollars each week. 

Make it simpler by having a portion of each paycheck transferred to your savings account or by setting up recurring monthly transfers of money. 

4. Increase your contributions 

Increase the percentage you save or the amount you put into your emergency fund gradually as your income rises. 

Small gains result in small savings over time that adds up. 

5. Keep up the momentum 

It may be necessary to save more than six months’ worth of expenses in case of prolonged financial difficulties, so it’s usually a good idea to keep building your emergency fund even after you’ve met your target. The extra cost is worthwhile just for the peace of mind.

6 Advantages of An Emergency Fund 

The security it offers from life’s “what-ifs” is the largest benefit of having an emergency fund. 

The economic safeguard will decrease the financial effect of unforeseen costs and events, but it won’t stop unpleasant things from happening. 

Having an emergency fund can also: 

  1. Ensure serenity of mind 
  2. Unexpected difficulties cause tension. With an emergency fund, you can reduce some of that stress and concentrate on the issue at hand rather than worrying about how you’ll pay your bills.
  3. Managing Debt 
  4. An emergency fund can prevent you from using up all of your usual resources or accruing more debt by preventing you from using credit cards or loans to cover unexpected expenses. 
  5. More judicious spending 
  6. Reducing your ability to make discretionary purchases by setting money away for only financial emergencies will help your overall financial situation. 

How much money do you need to have in your Emergency Funds 

How much you should save in your emergency fund depends on your lifestyle. As a general rule, you should have enough cash on hand to cover three to six months’ worth of costs, even if you weren’t earning any money.

Include your rent or mortgage, utilities, car payments, groceries, and other necessary expenses when determining your emergency fund “number.” 

When you’re in a financial emergency, things like eating out, entertainment, and new apparel shouldn’t be included in your budget. 

In light of this, you might wish to set away a reasonable amount each month in addition to your emergency fund requirement. This extra cushion will lessen or eliminate any excess stress.

Where to keep an Emergency Fund 

Glass jars and mattresses aren’t the best places to save your money, especially the sort you save for a rainy day, despite what you may have seen in movies. Do you want to know where to keep or invest your emergency funds?

The best place to keep an emergency fund is in an interest- or dividend-bearing account, or in a secure, short-term investment that enables quick access to funds without incurring withdrawal fees. 

Here are a few well-liked accounts for saving for emergencies: 

  1. Standard Savings Accounts 
  2. High-Yield Savings Accounts 
  3. Money Market Accounts 
  4. Certificate Accounts

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Why Is It Crucial to Have an Emergency Fund? 

Money set up for emergencies should be spent for just that. True financial crises are those enormous, unanticipated curve balls that upend your way of life.

Emergencies do occur. It’s a universal truth. To prepare for emergencies, you don’t set up an emergency fund. You do it so that you will be ready if something unexpected occurs. 

  1. When anything breaks, there is an accident or health problem, you lose your job, or there is some other emergency, it gives you financial assistance. 
  2. You can feel at ease because of it. 
  3. You won’t be caught off guard or unprepared for life’s ups and downs if you have an emergency fund. When there is a crisis, you won’t have to worry about money and can concentrate on the situation at hand.
  4. Without an emergency fund, you are forced to come up with a way to pay for something you didn’t plan on, which can cause you to make poor financial decisions like taking on debt to cover a purchase you can’t afford.

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Conclusion 

Both the timing and severity of financial difficulties are erratic. So, if you haven’t done so already, start an emergency fund today to safeguard your family and yourself against unforeseen expenses in the future.

Author

Hi, I am Chidimma, the Chief Editor of StartupSpot. I hold a bachelor's degree in Business Education (with a major in Accounting) from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria and online certifications in Digital Marketing by SEMRUSH Academy. Startupspot was therefore born (in 2021) out of my passion to reach startups, small businesses and a greater audience to educate them about startups, the challenges facing startups and how to manage their finances. I also wish to educate people (especially women) to attain financial independence. I hope you find the contents useful, and should you need further help, I hope you ‌reach me.

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