Your emergency fund should be for an EMERGENCY! Not, “I really, really want to go to this concert,” or, “I really need a diamond studded dog-collar for Tinkerbell.”
Everyone’s definition of an emergency is different. But, if you want it to be of some use to you, you need to have a strict definition of an emergency.
Leverage your emergency fund
Also, your emergency fund should put more dollars into your pocket once it has been well established. Here is how:
- You start putting $100 a month into a high-yield savings account. This will not generate much income, but it will do a whole lot better than spending the money.
- After five months, barring no emergencies, you will have $500 in your high-yield savings account earning a nice interest rate. Now you can call your car insurance company and ask them to raise your deductible from from $100 to $250. Since you have $500 set aside for an emergency, you will now be able to afford the $250 deductible.
- The good news is that when you raise your deductible, your car insurance bill goes down. Now that you are saving $120 a year on your insurance bill, you can add that to your emergency savings. Instead of saving $100 a month, you can now save $110 a month ($120/12 months=$10) with no extra money out of your pocket.
- Now that you are adding $110 a month to your emergency fund each month, it will grow even faster. In a few more months, you will reach $1,000 balance. You can call the insurance company again and ask them to raise your deductible to $500. Again, this will lower your insurance bill even more. Add the difference to your emergency savings and keep this cycle going.
- As you can see, doing this over and over again will save you money, while expanding your safety net. Your bank account will be growing at a faster pace and you will have more peace of mind.
The figures used are hypothetical and I would suggest raising your deductible only to a level that you are comfortable with. But remember, you are paying a lot of money to the insurance company to have a low deductible.
Keep letting your emergency fund grow larger and larger and shoot for a dollar amount that would cover 3 months of your living expenses. Once you get to that point, then you should start looking at investing in mutual funds or stocks to get a better return on your money.