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Is It Raining Yet – 5 Situations When Tapping the Emergency Fund is a Must

We’ve all heard the phrase “I can’t live without it”. For many people, those are the exact words that landed them in debt in the first place. Looking back over time, however, we find that not only could we have lived without it, but we would have been better off if we had done so. When it comes time to put aside something for a rainy day, it becomes necessary to know the difference between a downpour and a cloudy day that would get much brighter if only we could go spend some money.

Having Principles

The whole point of an emergency fund is to insulate yourself from one of life’s true disasters. No matter how large or small your fund is (or how big you want it to be), it’s going to be back at zero in record time if you keep raiding it for impulse buys.

It All Starts With No

“No” is the magic word for emergency funds. Want to tap into it? No! Now that you’ve rejected the idea, try and justify the reversal of your default answer. By starting at “no”, you greatly increase the possibility that you’ll stick with it.

There’s Always An Exception

Of course the whole point of a rainy day fund is to be ready for when it rains. The trick is in knowing what that means and when to permit withdrawals. If you suffer a freak series of car accidents or breakdowns, the answer might be yes. The injuries suffered from auto accidents can range from death and incapacitation to spinal damage that does not manifest itself for days after the collision. Those injuries can turn into expensive medical bills, and that’s if you recover quickly.

If someone breaks into your house and steals all your tools, you’ll need to say yes– but if your tools have the words “X Box” printed on the side, then you should probably wait.

If your refrigerator finally stops making that weird humming noise and the milk goes sour, you’ll probably need to tap the reserves before all the frozen food melts. But you should have been saving up anyhow, since you knew that weird noise wasn’t normal. It was going to go bad eventually. If you lose your job and need to keep the electric bill paid until you find another one, this is exactly the sort of thing which emergency funds were intended for in the first place.

To sum up, your emergency fund is designed to get you off the metaphorical shipwreck and safe on the shore. If you use it for anything else, you are probably making a mistake. You can’t start to save and invest seriously until you have the homefront properly taken care of.


Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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