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Lately, I’ve been fussing around with 3 reasons to fund an emergency fund.
I’ve drawn down my emergency fund and am coming to terms with having to build it up again. The struggle is hard to pitch money into the unknown for events I hope to actively avoid, like car repairs, medical expenses, and unemployment.
It’s things I don’t like to think about let alone save for.
Despite the discomfort, it’s important.
In the span of a lifetime, many little and big emergencies happen. There is no way to swerve left instead of going right into a dumpster fire. The only way avoid the jettisoned airbag against a face full of glasses is to do what can be done beforehand.
Wear a seat belt, eat and sleep well, and save monies for emergencies. It’s not the first thing I share with friends when they ask how I am, but it’s a relief during those dark times when it feels like there is little relief to be had.
The best way to avoid a wreck is to prep before the event.
To date, I know three people who’ve been fired or laid off. A family member lost their job when their company had to cut costs. A friend lost her job when management went from bad to ugly. Another friend lost his job when his personality didn’t fit the culture.
Despite the unique circumstances for each situation, there was a surprised human at the end of the event.
Each was pitched into the unknown of unemployment and had to muck their way through to what’s next.
For the family member, he had a brief pause before he was off and running at the next opportunity.
This guy was fortunate to have substantial savings, which he never had to use because he had a spouse who could float finances for two. Plus, he got another job, even though it paid significantly less than the last. He worked at a sporting goods store until he launched back into his field.
Though not desirable, he walked away emboldened by the experience. Since then, he’s completed his master’s, diversified his skillset, and increased his savings. All as a direct result of being laid off.
He turned a nosedive into a career thrive. He didn’t need 3 reasons to fund an emergency fund, but having an emergency fund played a role in his flexibility once he was cast adrift in unemployment.
If you’re human, medical bills happen.
Two years ago, I had a $685 surprise medical bill.
The surprise was how much it cost to visit a chiropractor when insurance isn’t paying for it.
This burly bill found me 2 years after the many appointments. When I caused these appointments, I had limited insurance. I assumed, because I hadn’t seen a bill, that it was taken care of.
It was an expensive wrong.
When it showed up in my mailbox, I was confused. I did want I do when I’m confused, I called and asked questions. By the end of the call, I had clarity about how the expenses occurred, but that didn’t change the price.
In the end, I paid the bill in full. My emergency fund was bodilicious enough to handle the cost though anything that’s a 2-year old medical bill doesn’t feel anywhere in the same universe as fun. $685 could have been tires for my car or a plane ticket to anywhere more interesting than the Land of Abundant Copays.
Loss happens and a funeral flight happens too.
Recently, a family member passed away. She had lived a long life and her exit was peaceful. Before I knew what her final wishes were, I thought I would need to travel to her funeral.
Having an emergency fund to pay for an unexpected plane ticket was a measure of comfort.
I didn’t have to worry about where to find funds or a temporary income setback. I could work on my grief without stress about finances.
That alone gave more space, grace, and breadth to healing.
How does one build an emergency fund?
The cute nerds over at Nerdwallet have suggestions for building an emergency fund:
- What’s your number?
Figure out how much to save. Start small and grow over time. It’s too intimidating to start saving six months of expenses when starting with zero. Instead, go for little wins and start with a small number like $100.
2. Automation is your bestie.
Just like taxes, social security, and Monday morning coffee make it automatic. Even small amounts like $10 a week will add up to $520 a year. Plus, once you set it, you can forget it.
3. Extra money is easy money for an emergency fund.
From tax refunds to rebates, if it’s unexpected income it can be directed to an emergency fund. It’s not exciting or satisfying but future you will thank you.
4. Track your progress.
Tracking how your emergency fund is growing is a small slice of fun. It’s how bean counters get excited. It’s intimate knowledge because I’ve turned into one. I love seeing little seeds of money become big brutes capable of handling the splashes of chaos. It turns emergencies into something less chaotic and stressful.
3 reasons to build an emergency fund is how to buffer against change, challenge, and chaos.
I’ve heard stories about impressive humans who’ve taken a challenge and transformed it into growth.
I’ve been fortunate to have front-row tickets to how a person can take something that would crush a candidate and use it for growth, progress, and a bigger, bolder life.
Of course, I aspire to be this impressive human. It’s like a unicorn without a horn!
One trait of these weekend warriors is preparing for the unknown with an emergency fund that is robust enough to weather 6 months’ worth of expenses. This ensures time to clean up the unexpected, uninvited mess and turn it into something better and brilliant.