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12 Things to Know When it Comes to Emergency Funds

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

With layoffs hitting the headlines it has never been a better time to focus on building up your family emergency fund. Easier said than done. But far from impossible.

Why? Because other Americans have successfully created emergency funds— living proof that you can too.

Below you will find 12 points filled with facts, statistics, and tactics to help you save money to tuck away for rainy days and emergencies.

#1) Every family needs an emergency fund regardless of income level.

Here’s why. No one is immune to bad events popping up and various bad events have different price tags. A 60-minute ER visit costs much more than a car repair that keeps your vehicle on the road for years. Also, regardless of the size of your bank account, there are always money worries. Money labeled for ‘emergency use only’ helps lower this stress.

#2) Nearly 6 in 10 Americans don't have enough savings to cover a $500 or $1,000 unplanned expense (CBS News).

Bad news, since $100 won’t cover most emergencies, right? Yet, with some creative thinking and flexibility, many unexpected costs can be lowered. One example would be buying a used appliance when the fridge goes out versus financing a new one. Many used appliances come with a warranty. Plus, these shops will often offer a repair option for broken appliances.

#3) Having a credit card for emergencies is a safety net but cash is the better emergency fund.

For one, having cash at the ready builds confidence that you can handle events life tosses at you without having to pile debt onto your household. Two, even if you plan to only use a credit card for one-time events, the temptation is there to overspend. The best emergency fund is one you control fully and never costs you interest→ money in a savings account.

Avoiding debt doesn’t convince everyone but keep reading to the end for one reason that appeals on a deep level…

#4) Being on the same page as your partner or spouse helps more than you know.

Think about all the sports teams over the years with all-star rosters that failed to succeed. Great players, even hall-of-famers, but didn’t win a championship because they were not on the same page with each other. Facing unexpected life events together, saving as one, is a sure path to building an emergency fund.

#5) CNBC reports 64% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

When trapped in a pattern like that, it’s tough to break out of it. It will take drastic measures in many cases. Like working an extra job or insane overtime hours. And still, that won’t be enough unless spending is curtailed.

However, young people can learn to avoid this trap if they are taught to save money long before they get a job. Practice makes perfect, but it’s on parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. to teach children because our educational system does not focus on financial literacy.

A fact that has hurt our society for many decades.

*Financial education benefits 100% of students whereas high school algebra is only needed by 19% of students in their future jobs. Financial literacy done correctly has been demonstrated to increase the amount allocated towards retirement savings, reduce stress caused by financial problems, and increase the net worth of learners.

#6) Regular health check-ups can also be healthy financially.

Is this true? Consider how much emergency room visits cost. A United Healthcare study in 2019 found ER visits are 12 times that of a primary care physician and 10 times the cost of urgent care visits. Plus, of 27 million ER visits, 18 million are considered non-emergencies. Point is many people could avoid expensive emergency care by going to their regular doctor on schedule.

Set up a health savings plan at work or on your own to help avoid depleting your emergency fund on hospital bills.

*$2,000 is reported as the avg. emergency room cost.

#7) Vehicle problems can drive your emergency fund into the ground.

But you need to be prepared for this inevitable financial problem. Cars and trucks break down. An emergency fund is a nice cushion when your tire blows out, battery dies, or you have to pay your deductible on an insurance claim. A separate savings fund for larger repair costs is also wise.

Note. Vehicle check-ups can save you money like health check-ups do. Auto parts stores offer free battery checks and most drivers can inspect their tires to notice serious wear. These checks can save you from needing a tow truck (average cost $109 A 100-mile tow can cost nearly $500! So get a mechanic to inspect higher-mileage cars before long trips.

#8) Emergency funds are a must to defend against layoffs.

Having savings set aside can keep you from missing payments when your paycheck stops. Not only that, but a financial cushion can help you avoid taking a less-than-ideal job. Money in the bank gives you options when you lose your job unexpectedly.

And guess what. Most job losses are unexpected! So starting an emergency fund and building up long-term savings is the best way to prepare for these challenging events.

*Q1 of 2023 tech layoffs nearly surpassed all of 2022 tech layoffs.

#9) Home repairs that can hurt family finances:

● Roof leaks

● Plumbing

● Heating and air system

An emergency fund is a must for those particular home repairs. Why those? Because you cannot put them off like you can the need for upgraded carpet or cabinets. Even the toughest American needs the A/C on in the heat of July. If not, you can bet their partner does!

According to This Old House, the average roofing repair costs $1,000. Note. If hail or wind has damaged your roof (even in long-past storms) your house insurance may cover the roof replacement. A reputable roofing company can guide you on that process. There would still be a deductible to pay so, once again, an emergency fund comes into play.

#10) One of the top reasons people say they are unable to set aside money for savings?

Housing costs take so much of their income. This is a financial pitfall to avoid at all costs, young people. Now, if you’re already in this situation, you have to work on it from where you are. Options:

● Downsizing

● House hacking (i.e. renting out a basement)

● Refinancing if possible

● Live-in nanny in exchange for room/board to reduce childcare costs

Generating more income is the logical option when those above are not a fit. But a couple can only work so many hours before it diminishes quality of life. So again, the best advice is to avoid giant house payments / super-high rent so you don’t have to fight your way out of a financial pit.

#11) Few emergency funds ever grow without planning a budget.

A budget tells your family’s income where to go and what to do— before it vanishes without a trace! Setting up a family budget is not only one of the best things a couple can do financially, but for their relationship overall.

Money issues cause the majority of divorces, according to many reports. So look at budgets and emergency funds as break-up repellents.

#12) Now, if my logical reasons have not convinced you that emergency funds are vital, let me appeal to emotion.

The love of pets. No one wants to be powerless if their lovable cat or dog needs serious medical attention. Again, regular health check-ups, even for Fido and Tom-Cat, can sometimes prevent emergency medical events.

*Emergency surgery for pets ranges from $1,500 - $5,000 while dental cleaning can hit $400.

An emergency fund is a must when you have a faithful pet depending on you. And just like the previous 11 points above, having money set aside for emergencies gives you options.

Investment advice offered through Private Advisor Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor.

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