You know the score – life is ticking along nicely, everything is going your way and you’re feeling good. Then BOOM!! Out of nowhere, without warning, the car breaks down and is going to cost £100s to fix. You haven’t got the money and you are going to have to put it on credit. You work hard at trying to pay it off and then the boiler packs up. Again, you’ve not got the money to pay for it. After all, you’ve been busy paying off the car repairs. So the boiler also has to go on credit. That’s another £2k of debt that has to be paid off. 

But what if there was another way? Well, let me tell you…there is another way! It’s called an ‘Emergency Fund‘.

What is an Emergency Fund?

An emergency fund is money set aside for….well, an emergency. The purpose of an emergency fund is to prevent you from going into debt when life throws you a curveball. What if you lost your job? How long would you be able to stay afloat before needing to borrow money to see you through? All of those bills will still need paid and it may take months to find a new job.  You don’t want to be using your credit card so an emergency fund is a MUST.

How much should be in your emergency fund?

The general consensus is that you should have three to six months worth of expenses saved as an emergency fund. If your job is secure and you aren’t the sole family provider then three months’ worth of expenses should be sufficient. If you are the sole provider or your job isn’t typically secure then you should aim to save six months’ worth. For example, hubby and I are both self employed and our income is very variable. We can, and often have, lost chunks of our income overnight when our customers change their requirements. We have therefore saved six months worth of expenses. If I were, say, a teacher I would probably choose to save three months of expenses.

 

What are classed as expenses?

When we talk about having three months or six months worth of expenses this doesn’t mean your total monthly outgoings as they stand today. We’re talking about the bare bones outgoings. The absolute essentials. This would include mortgage/rent payments, council tax, debt repayments, transport costs, grocery costs etc. It doesn’t include things like gym membership, Netflix, gifts etc. 

Where you should keep your emergency fund

Your emergency fund should be ‘liquid’. That means that you should be able to access it immediately. It shouldn’t be tied up in the stock market or property etc. You should keep your funds in an easy-access savings account. If you can find an account like this with a decent interest rate then that’s great but earning interest on your emergency fund isn’t the aim here – it’s about having a lump of money that you can access quickly in the event of an emergency. 

How to Build your Emergency fund

Saving thousands of pounds can seem like an impossible task but there are many ways in which you can build your fund. 

Sell things from around the home

Take a look around you right now. I bet there are things that you no longer need or use. Work your way around your home and put together everything you know you don’t need. Then sell it on Ebay or Facebook Marketplace. I made £100s by doing this and I put it all toward our emergency fund. 

Use your tax refund

If you’re self-employed and get a tax refund put it straight into your emergency fund pot.

Take on a side-hustle

I took up matched betting and made thousands! It’s a seriously good earner and I honestly don’t know why more people don’t do it. All of your earning are totally tax-free and it’s good fun too. Take a look at my post on matched betting. 

Take on a second job

I know, I know. You’re already busy and don’t seem to have a second to spare. I get it. But this is a great way to earn some extra money for your fund. It’s not forever and you might even like it! Or if you can’t take on a second job can you increase your hours at your current job?

Gifts

Whenever you receive cash as a gift chuck it into your fund. Boring I know but again, it’s not forever.

 

 

What counts as an emergency?

Our emergency fund is to be used only in dire circumstances. As I said above, losing your job is an emergency. You have no money coming in and bills to pay. Use your emergency fund to get you through.

Christmas is NOT an emergency. It happens on the same date every year. We know it’s coming. It’s not out of the ordinary and we can prepare for it.

Your roof leaking or your boiler breaking are emergencies and if you don’t have the cash for the repairs then your emergency fund is there to be used. 

Wanting to upgrade your car is NOT an emergency. Going on holiday is NOT an emergency. I know how tempting it is to use the money for things like this but if you do then you leave yourself vulnerable and risk having to take on debt.

Final Point

Remember – if you have to dip into your emergency fund be sure to top it up again! Always keep the full three or six months worth of expenses in there.

6 Comments on What is an emergency fund and why you need one

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for these blog post loved reading it and i am trying now, working on my emergency fund, but can i ask, do you have different funds, i would like tonset up a Christmas fund for 2021.
    Thanks
    Kathryn.x

    • You’re welcome 🙂 Yes, I do. As well my emergency fund I have ‘sinking funds’ (I have a blog post on sinking funds too – just type sinking funds into the search bar). I have around 6 different ‘pots’ – like mini saving accounts – and I add to them weekly. For example, I have a Christmas pot and add weekly to that so I have enough saved by the time Xmas comes around. You can do this for car repairs, home repairs, holidays etc xx

  2. One way to build up your emergency fund is to take online surveys. I manage to make about £80/90 a month which goes straight into my savings account. Have made quite a bit during this whole pandemic!

    • Totally agree. Online surveys are a great way to make money! Well done for having the discipline to send that money straight to your savings 🙂

    • Which online surveys do you take and how do you know if they are legitimate? I have tried signing up but there are so many spam ones I get inundated with spam

      • I tend to use Prolific mainly as they offer regular, interesting and easy surveys and have a low cash-out value too. Before you start make sure you set up an email address dedicated to your survey side hustle otherwise your personal account will be inundated. Steer clear of any site that asks you to part with money. I have not once parted with money and am able to easily earn £30 per month. Take a look at my blog post on surveys for more info x

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