Don’t wait for an unexpected emergency! Start today and build up a family emergency fund with these tips so that you and your loved ones will be prepared!
A Family Emergency Fund: How to build one and why you need to
No one wants to think about negative things that could happen in the future!
When you are living paycheck to paycheck or you have very little extra money each month the last thing you want to consider is an extra, unexpected expense.
Yet, you need to set up an emergency fund for your family, especially if you have children to take care of.
Once my husband lost his job and was out of work for a few months. I can’t tell you what a relief it was for us to have extra money set aside in a family emergency fund – it was a tremendous help.
You can’t predict what might happen in the future, but you can prepare for yourself and your family.
What is an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is simply money set aside for an urgent, unexpected life event.
For example: a hospitalization, emergency car repairs or accident, a flooded home.
Special clearance sales and once-in-a-lifetime vacations are not emergencies.
A lot of experts recommend that you have at least $1000 in your emergency fund.
Honestly, this is a small amount and one big emergency (car repairs, a hospitalization, loss of a job) can eat this amount up quickly.
Other experts say you should have 3-6 months worth of living expenses (how much you would need to spend in that amount of time) in your emergency fund.
This calculator can help give you an idea of how much money you may need to cover 3-6 months of expenses based on your current monthly expenses and savings.
If even $1000 seems impossible to you, set a goal of $500 (or $250) and work hard to fill your emergency fund until you’re reached that amount.
Then, when you reach it, increase it. Slowly and consistently build up to having at least 3 months worth of living expenses in your emergency fund.
I have some tips below on how to help you find extra money to save.
You can set up a family emergency fund easily today and make some small sacrifices to start filling it ASAP!
How to build an Emergency Fund
Opening up an emergency fund is the easy part.
1. First, open a separate account just for your emergency fund.
Having your emergency money lumped into your normal bank account is too confusing and too tempting.
I have a checking and savings account at a credit union and later opened a free second savings account that became my “Family Emergency Fund” account.
You can even have your emergency fund at a separate bank so that it’s ‘harder’ for you to access the account.
2. Make regular deposits.
You want to think of your “Emergency Fund” as another bill you have to pay (you’re paying yourself!) each month.
(Even better: Set up an automatic deposit to take your monthly emergency fund contribution from your checking to savings so that you won’t be tempted to use it!)
3. Start small.
Even if all you can contribute at first is $50 a month – commit to it and do it!
Your goal is to steadily fill your account up (and increase your monthly contribution) until you reach your goal. Then, increase your smaller goal until you are eventually able to have at least 3 months worth of living expenses in there!
Now comes the harder part – how to find money to fill it, especially if you struggle with having any money left over at the end of the month.
4. Look for creative ways to cut back on expenses and lower your bills.
- walk or ride the bus or carpool
- drink water instead of coffee or soda
- lower your thermostat (wear a sweater during the day and use extra blankets at night)
- get rid of cable (borrow free movies from the library or read books instead)
- shop around for better rates on insurance and cell phone plans
- get rid of memberships or subscriptions you don’t use (instead of going to the gym workout at home or go for a jog)
- make meals at home (if you eat out a lot, start out with eating at home 1 day a week and bringing your lunch to work)
Check out this post on how to save money by living frugally (even on a low income) or this one to see the things that frugal people don’t buy!
Eating out is very expensive and you can save a lot of money preparing the same meal at home. If you struggle with meal planning, read about how you can make it easier and faster.
Related: Meal planning made easy
5. Find ways to make extra money.
- Sell stuff! Look through your items and see if you can sell anything. Every little bit helps!
- Get an extra part-time job (for example, seasonal work, a weekend shift)
- Offer your services (babysitting, repair work, lawn maintenance, etc.)
6. Add extra money (gifts, bonuses, rebates, etc.) directly to the emergency fund.
I know it can be SO tempting to take any extra money that comes in and spend it on something fun, but add anything extra directly to the fund. You’ll need self-control, but you can do it!
Once you reach your emergency fund goal you’ll feel so much better and more prepared!
Then, you can use the money that was going into your emergency fund to save for something else you need or would like.
Why you need a Family Emergency Fund
You might think that you don’t need an emergency fund. I felt the same way. When I first got married, my husband and I made it our goal to get out of debt and live debt-free.
We also built up our emergency fund. I can tell you that we used money from this fund several times (and replenished it in between) because:
- my husband lost his job for several months
- my daughter and husband were both unexpectedly hospitalized (on separate occasions)
- we had unexpected car repairs
Now, as a single mom, my emergency fund is more important than ever. With 2 little kids and a lot of uncertainty in my life, I feel better knowing that I have some money in my emergency fund just in case!
You or a loved one might experience one of these:
- job loss (and you’re unable to find another one quickly)
- an unexpected illness, car accident, or hospitalization
- urgent car or house repairs
- moving expenses
- a family emergency and you need to fly home
What to avoid when building up your Emergency Fund:
While you build up your family emergency fund, you definitely want to avoid incurring more debt.
If you are struggling with debt, read about how to find ways to pay off your debt faster.
Related: Ways to Pay Off Debt Fast
Make sure you start a family emergency fund as soon as possible so that you can be prepared for life’s unexpected events. Having the extra money in a savings account will give you and your family peace of mind if a serious, unexpected expense comes up. What is keeping you from starting an emergency fund? Are you struggling to find money to fill it? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!