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The terrible financial climate of the last few years (resulting from the collapse of the housing bubble and the credit crisis) has meant that there are very few families who have not had to learn about budgeting and preparing for rainy days. And one budgeting skill every family should look into is the importance of putting money into a family emergency fund.
If you haven’t got one it is essential to start saving for one right away as you never know when you or your family might need them. Of course no one, particularly when they are younger, ever thinks they are going to have emergencies come along, but unfortunately if you are the keeper of the purse for your family you need to be prepared for any and every eventuality. An emergency fund is there for those unexpected moments in life when things go wrong, be they medical, accidental, money related or any other. An emergency fund will be the only thing to offer a soft landing if things ever fall apart. This article will help you start your own emergency fund:
(1) Clear the Decks – There is no point in starting an emergency fund if you still have a great many outstanding debts that are going to drain on your resources for a long time. This doesn’t include mortgages that you will pay off over a great many years and which will not be charging massive amounts of interest. However, if you have large credit card debts, store card debts or even payday loan debts which will all accumulate massive interest then it is essential to clear these before you start your fund.
(2) Start Calculating How Much You Will Need – After sorting out your debts the next step is to work out how much you are going to need for your emergency fund. You can do this initially by calculating how much your outgoings are every month. This calculation isn’t just for yourself but for the entire family. The best way to do this is to write down just how much goes out of your current account every month, making sure you include travel expenses, school expenses, groceries, dining out and any other regular expenditure.
(3) Now Add In the Mortgage / Rental Costs – Now you need to add in the cost of your monthly mortgage payment, making allowances for any future changes in the interest rate.
(4) Estimate Any Upcoming Large Repairs to Your Property – You will never be able to predict what sudden emergencies might strike, but it is worth being prepared for some that are more likely than others. If you know the roof is only going to last another few years then you should start preparing for a large outlay. Similarly if your boiler is getting on a bit or the plumbing is in need of an overhaul you will know that there are some large bills on the way in the future. A good way to plan is to try to save up to 3% of the value of the house into the fund.
(5) Plan for Medical Issues – More important than house repairs, it is worth always having some money in case you or your family need urgent medical care. The best way to do this is maintain your medical insurance and to put enough money aside to keep paying that medical insurance for at least a year in the event of an emergency.
(6) Be Ready for Losing Your Main Income – The chief reason that you are putting money away for medical insurance and house repairs is in case you lose your job. Being out of work for extended periods is the most likely rainy day scenario you will confront so you need to brace yourself for at least six months (if not a year to be doubly cautious) of no income. Work out how much you would need to find to pay off the mortgage, the monthly outgoings and your family’s medical insurance.
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