Why you need $500 in the bank by Liz Pullian Weston of MSN.com shares how to get started with $500 in an emergency funds. The article concludes with some examples of what constitutes an emergency and what doesn't. "Essentially, it's an event that puts your livelihood or your family's safety at risk. The television dying, for example, is not an emergency. The furnace dying is."
Here were some of the guidelines we used for our emergency fund:
- Limit using unexpected use to true emergencies. We only considered one or two events true emergencies. They were job loss or catastrophic medical expenses. Fortunately, neither of these ever happened to us while we were working.
- Keep the majority of funds in cash or cash equivalents. For us, it would have been disastrous to have emergency funds invested in the stock market and then need to use them when the market is down. An emergency is bad enough. Needing to sell when the market is down makes the emergency even worse.
- Emergency funds shouldn't replace insurance coverage or saving for routine large expenses. To me, emergency funds should be in addition to and not instead of major medical, auto, home and liability insurance. Also, I would consider large purchases (e.g. car, furniture, electronics), car repair, and major home repair (e.g. roof, furnace, or air conditioning) to be planned expenses and therefore, not a reason to use emergency funds.
The Chief Family Officer writes how she created and infrequent bills savings account because they were using emergency funds to pay for "routine" large bills. Before getting married, I used to co-mingle emergency and big expense (e.g. car, real estate tax) funds and reconcile the amounts periodically. In the last couple years, we created a separate big expense fund, for items such as home repair, car purchase and insurance premiums.
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This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.
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