Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's in your emergency fund?

The conventional wisdom on how much you should have in your emergency fund might be 3 - 6 months of expenses. But what does this mean?

For me personally, I'd only tap my emergency fund in a major event. Something like an unexpected bill wouldn't qualify, as was discussed in a recent post on Get Rich Slowly. I do have more than 3 months of expenses set aside. I calculated a month's worth of expenses by looking at all my fixed expenses (mortgage, utilities, any other debt) first. Then I looked at how much I usually spend on non-fixed expenses (groceries, gas, fun money).

I figure if there was a job loss, is there anything in the fixed expenses I could cancel? Then after that I look at the other expenses. How much could I reasonably cut back there? I try not to assume I'd be capable of making too many major cuts. Better to overestimate my expenses I need to save and then be able to buckle down later. But there's still a point in being reasonable about what you will have to cut if you've actually gotten to the point of tapping your funds.

What do you think? How much is in your emergency fund and would you ever consider tapping it for a bill?

(Photo from Richard Cocks)

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