How to Get Started with Building an Emergency Fund
Your dishwasher broke.
You got laid off.
Ice dams caused roof damage.
Your dentist says you need a root canal.
The street sweeper dinged your car.
Time for the emergency fund! As homeowners, we understand the importance of having some money saved for those unexpected things that crop up. That’s why we at Hometap always advocate for an emergency fund (or rainy day fund)—an easily accessible savings vehicle you can tap to cover unwelcome expenses. Best yet, having an emergency fund means you won’t have to take on credit card debt or a high-interest loan to cover the surprise bills.
But how should you get started and how much should you save? Read on for expert tips on building your emergency fund, replenishing your emergency fund, and the overall benefits (e.g., peace of mind) an emergency fund can impart.
Why You Should Have an Emergency Fund
Think of an emergency fund as an insurance policy, say the experts at Investopedia. “Rather than paying premiums to an insurance company, you’re setting aside money for yourself that can be used at a later date.”
Emergency funds stave off stress, prevent mindless spending, and keep you from making bad financial decisions, says the investment team at Vanguard.
No excuses—The Balance lists out eight reasons why you need an emergency fund, including home upkeep/repairs, starting a family, and unexpected travel for family medical emergencies or funerals.
How Much Should You Save in Your Emergency Fund?
Depending on your circumstances and lifestyle, aim to put aside enough money to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses, says Candice Elliott at Listen Money Matters. (Don’t panic if that sounds like an insurmountable challenge. She also offers tips to get started, including ways to cut spending and increase your earnings.)
Play around with savings possibilities with Money Under 30’s Emergency Fund Calculator. (You don’t have to be younger than 30 to use it!)
How do you know when enough is enough? Arielle O’Shea at Nerdwallet outlines when you can stop contributing to your emergency fund.
Watch and Learn from the Pros
Even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, an emergency fund should still be a top priority, says Forbes’ Maggie McGrath. Watch her crunch the numbers to show how emergency funds can safeguard your financial future.
What is your emergency fund for—and where’s the best place to save it? Financial advisor Dave Ramsay emphasizes that an emergency fund is insurance, not an investment, on The Dave Ramsay Show.
Feeling overwhelmed with getting started on your emergency fund? Chelsea Fagan with The Financial Diet takes a deep dive into emergency funds so you can start yours (and keep going) with confidence.
Take our 5-minute quiz to see if a home equity investment is a good fit for you.
Take the Quiz!
The opinions expressed in this post are for informational purposes only. To determine the best financing for your personal circumstances and goals, consult with a licensed advisor.