How to Start an Emergency Fund and Why It’s So Important

November 16, 2023


What exactly is an emergency fund, and why does every financial advisor emphasize the importance of having one?

An emergency fund is a stash of savings set aside specifically to cover unexpected costs or income disruptions. Most experts recommend having enough to cover 6-12 months of living expenses and take-home pay as a minimum. The idea is that if you lose your job, have a medical emergency, your car breaks down, or any other surprise costs come up, you have cash reserves to tap without going into debt.

Building up an emergency savings account is one of the smartest money moves you can make. Life throws curveballs at us when we least expect it, so having a financial safety net prepares

you for whatever might happen. Here are some key reasons an emergency fund is essential:

  • Covers essential costs if you lose your job or primary income source
  • Pays for emergency medical expenses like hospital visits
  • Handles emergency home or car repairs
  • Prevents accruing credit card or loan debt in a crisis
  • Reduces stress when unexpected expenses occur

Now you might be wondering, how am I supposed to save up months worth of take-home pay? For most of us, that seems totally unrealistic. 

Here are some steps you can take to start building your emergency fund:

  1. Start Small: Open a dedicated savings account and make your first goal by contributing one month’s take-home pay. Every little bit counts in the beginning.
  2. Trim Expenses: Review your budget and see where you can reduce discretionary spending. Small changes like cooking at home more, limiting takeout, or downgrading cable packages can free up cash that can be contributed to monthly savings.
  3. Automate Contributions: Set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking account to your designated emergency fund. Consistency is key, so automating transfers makes it effortless.
  4. Increase Contributions: As you get raises or cost of living bumps at work, try to increase the amount you’re putting towards emergency savings by a percentage. Live below your means.
  5. Time and Patience: Building up six months of reserves takes time for most people. Stick with it, stay focused on the goal, and you’ll get there.

A solid emergency fund takes dedication and resisting the urge to tap it for non-emergencies. But it provides peace of mind and prepares you financially for life’s curveballs. No matter your income level, you can take steps today to start saving for the unexpected.

Check out our new YouTube series, “So You Want to Invest? Feat. Kelley O’Hara for further advice on budgeting, reducing expenses, and setting financial goals.


Reach out to a Wiss team member for more information or assistance.

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