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Emergency Fund: How Much Should You Keep in Yours?

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 March 21, 2018 | By OppU Loans

OppU AnswersIn our first episode of OppU Answers, we tell you why an emergency fund is such a game-changer and give you tips on how to start one.  

An emergency fund is one of those things that’s super important to have, even if you don’t use it very often. It’s kind of like health or car insurance: if something bad happens and it’s not there, you’ll find yourself in a world of trouble. 

And, unfortunately, bad things do happen. In fact, a recent Fed survey discovered that just about one-third of Americans suffered a major financial setback in the past year. 

But how much money should you keep in your emergency fund to protect yourself? And how do you sock away cash when you feel like you’re scraping by as it is? 

To answer these questions, we sat down with financial expert Katie Ross from American Consumer Credit Counseling (@talkcentsblog). She gave us the lowdown on emergency funds: what they are, how to start one, and how much to keep in it. 

Creating an emergency fund is one of the most important things you can do to boost your financial health, and it’s easier than you might think. Want to know how? We break it down in our first episode of OppU Answers.

 

Transcript

Hey guys! I’m Caroline, and this is OppU Answers, the financial advice show where I track down real experts with real solutions for all your burning money questions. Today’s question comes from Lisa, one of our Facebook fans. She wants to know, “How much money should I have in my emergency fund for a life or medical emergency?” 

That’s a great question, Lisa! After all, we never know what kind of financial craziness life is going to throw at us. 

An emergency fund is a savings account that you can use in case of illness, job loss, or any other unexpected life event. 

It’s different than a normal savings account, because it’s used only in case of emergency. It’s designed to act as a buffer to help you get back on your feet after something unexpected happens. 

To help answer Lisa’s question, we talked to Katie Ross. Katie is a member of the American Consumer Credit Counseling management team. She’s also an expert at saving money. 

Katie recommends keeping, at a minimum, three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund. To calculate how much this will be for you, you’ll need to take note of how much you spend every month on necessities like groceries, rent, and getting around. 

We all know saving three to six months’ worth of expenses is no easy feat. So how can Lisa and people like her start saving before an emergency? 

Katie has three foolproof ways you can start saving for an emergency right now: 

First, you can take a set chunk or percentage of every paycheck and put that directly into savings. 

Second, if you get a tax return, plan on putting away half of that immediately into the fund. 

Third, if you work more than one job, stash the majority of your second paycheck in savings every week. 

If you want to build up your emergency fund fast, put any money you have coming in that isn’t going to your living expenses directly into the fund. 

To free up extra cash for your fund, try cooking at home more often, or cutting back on all those late-night Amazon impulse buys. 

Follow these tips, and pretty soon you’ll be sitting on a nice nest egg. Whether or not life throws you a financial blow, you can rest easy knowing you’re prepared.

 

 American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) provides non-profit credit counseling, financial education, debt relief consolidation and debt reduction services for consumers nationwide. We offer free credit counseling to help individuals and families learn how to pay down credit card debt and how to eliminate debt altogether. As an alternative to expensive unsecured debt consolidation programs for settling credit card debt, our debt management programs help consumers pay off debts and manage credit card debt more quickly by consolidating payments. We also offer debt negotiation services to help reduce finance charges and interest rates. And our financial education services show consumer how to manage money more effectively and how to get rid of credit card debt more quickly – usually in five years or less.

American Consumer Credit Counseling - Consolidate Debts - Better Business Bureau American Consumer Credit Counseling - Consolidate Debts - Mass Housing Approved National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling American Consumer Credit Counseling - Consolidate Debts  - Council on Accreditation American Consumer Credit Counseling - Consolidate Debts  - NFCC Member