Emergency funds can be a lifesaver. Do you have extra funds saved for unexpected times? If not, it’s time to consider how much you’ll need if you fall on hard times.
Emergency funds can be helpful for everyone. Any unexpected hit to your finances, and unanticipated illness or a natural disaster might all be reasons you may need money right away.
An emergency fund is designed to keep your life intact during temporary setbacks and to help you avoid unnecessary debt. That means things like car insurance premiums and regular home maintenance (and other anticipated bills) should not be considered emergencies. The same is true of credit card bills for vacations.
In general, your emergency fund should cover three to six months of expenses. How much you’ll need will vary based on your financial situation, including the vulnerability of your income.
For example, a one-earner household is more vulnerable than a two-earner household when it comes to paychecks. So the one-earner family should generally set aside more for emergencies. Or if you don’t have disability insurance, you might consider setting aside a bigger balance in an emergency account.
Some companies provide payment for accrued vacation and/or sick leave to laid off employees. If your company provides such benefits and you maintain significant balances in these accounts, you may not need as much in an emergency fund (at least to help you weather an unexpected layoff).