May 11, 2021

How Much Should My Emergency Fund Amount Be?

Disasters happen. You might have done everything else right: carefully budgeted your rent or mortgage, put aside a good amount of your paycheck into a retirement fund, negotiated the best deal on your car, and paid back your student loans as quickly as possible. You pride yourself in managing money, but then your car breaks down. A hurricane blows off your roof. Or, you get sick or injured, and your health insurance won’t cover the costs of an operation.

If you don’t have the emergency funds to fix damage or support yourself when your cash flow takes a hit, you could end up in a serious financial predicament. It’s imperative to have emergency savings, but that raises another question: how much should you have in an emergency fund? 40% of Americans don’t have $400 for emergencies, so how much is too much, and how much is too little?

The Right Emergency Fund Amount

There is no definite number everyone should have, i.e., $5,000. The right emergency fund amount for you depends on your income and overall financial situation. On that note, most experts say that you should have between three to six month’s living expenses stashed away to prepare for emergencies, though more is always wise (especially if you are a non-salaried worker who earns variable income). Save as much as you can each paycheck until you have a financial cushion you’d feel comfortable surviving on for a while.

Say you lose your job. You still have rent and other bills to pay, and you don’t know when exactly you’ll find a new position. That’s why having a few months’ worth of living expenses to fall back on is necessary because, without your job, everything you pay for will come out of your savings. Just make sure it’s the right savings, not another fund you were building up.

Does My Emergency Account Need to Be Separate?

There are all kinds of significant expenses to save up for, like houses, vehicles, education, and retirement. Many people consider tapping into their retirement or other savings when emergencies arise because, well, they have the money; they’re just spending it earlier than expected.

Don’t tap into your retirement fund if you can avoid it. Withdrawing from it too early could result in additional hardship in the future. You don’t technically need a separate emergency funds account, but it’s a smart thing to practice. Opening an account dedicated to emergency savings reminds you to replenish it whenever you use it. Plus, many kinds of savings accounts accumulate interest, so you can earn a bit of passive money that way.

Important Factors to Consider

When determining your emergency funds amount, keep the following factors in mind:

  • How easily can you get a new job with similar pay? — Depending on your field, you might be able to attain a new position if you lose yours pretty quickly, or it could take months of interviewing.
  • How expensive is your area? — Someone who lives in a rural area will spend less on living expenses than someone in San Francisco or New York.
  • How likely are you to experience an emergency? — This one’s a little up in the air, we know, because emergencies can happen to anyone. However, honestly reflect on how at-risk you are of specific crises. Do you have any medical issues? Is your car in top shape, or is it faulty? Are you in a disaster-prone area? How well is your industry doing? If your apartment or home is beyond repair, then you might need emergency moving funds.

You can also take advantage of an emergency funds calculator to help you consider various scenarios.

Can’t I Just Use Credit?

You’re probably wondering: if I’m in an emergency and don’t have the money to cover it, can’t I just use my credit card? You could, but doing so entails consequences. If something happens to your house and you need to pay $10,000 to repair damages to make it livable, that’s $10,000 that will accumulate interest. You’ll end up paying much more money in the long-run and could set yourself up for extra difficulty.

Some people may have no choice but to use credit, but if possible, it’s better to have cash to pay for emergencies. Personal loans can also be dangerous.

Saving Tips

We acknowledge it, saving is a privilege, and people who live paycheck to paycheck don’t often have spare change to put away. Save whatever you can, though, even if it’s only a few dollars per week. You’ll be in an even worse situation if an emergency happens that you can’t pay for in any capacity. A few savings tips include:

  • Tip Yourself with the Earnin app whenever you accomplish part of your routine (every time you do also qualifies you for a chance to win prizes);
  • Open a savings account that earns interest and put aside as much of your paycheck as you can;
  • Set goals: think about how much money you want to have saved and by when;
  • Reduce your unnecessary expenses by negotiating with your vendors and cutting back on superfluous spending.

Your emergency fund amount is up to you — just be sure however much you save is enough to take care of yourself for the foreseeable future or enough to make life a little easier when an emergency happens.


Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

You may enjoy

How Much of Your Paycheck Should You Save, and Why?
How Much of Your Paycheck Should You Save, and Why?
If you don’t know how much of your paycheck you should save, start with at least 20%, and adjust depending on your income and financial goals.
Emergency Fund: What it Is & How To Start One In 8 Steps
Emergency Fund: What it Is & How To Start One In 8 Steps
Start saving for emergencies! Discover easy steps and tips to build a strong financial safety net. Secure your future with this guide.
How to Set Short Term Financial Goals
How to Set Short Term Financial Goals
It’s important to set short-term financial goals, like changing spending habits or saving for something specific, to set yourself up for long-term success.
Rethink Saving with Tip Yourself
Rethink Saving with Tip Yourself
Introducing a new savings tool - Tip Yourself. With Tip Yourself, you can set up Tip Jars to save money for specific financial goals. Read here to know more.
8 Short-Term Financial Goals to Boost Your Savings
8 Short-Term Financial Goals to Boost Your Savings
Looking to save more money this year? Check out these 8 short-term financial goals that can help you grow your savings.
5 Reasons You Should Use An App to Save Money
5 Reasons You Should Use An App to Save Money
Using an app to save money helps hold you accountable, allows you to track your progress, and provides you a comprehensive view of your finances.
How Many Americans Live Paycheck to Paycheck?
How Many Americans Live Paycheck to Paycheck?
How Many Americans Live Paycheck to Paycheck: Over half the US population lacks enough money to save after bills, but there are ways they can get by.
Financial Literacy: A Beginner’s Guide
Financial Literacy: A Beginner’s Guide
Become financially literate with our expert tips. Learn the basics of financial literacy and get ideas on how to build your financial momentum.
How to Prepare for a Recession
How to Prepare for a Recession
High inflation, rising costs, layoffs — it’s sensible to be concerned. We’ll show you how to prepare for a recession and secure your finances.
Cash in Hand: What are Total Liquid Assets?
Cash in Hand: What are Total Liquid Assets?
What are total liquid assets? Dive into the distinctions between liquid and non-liquid assets and explore their significance in financial planning.
Top 8 Financial Resolutions and Goals To Set
Top 8 Financial Resolutions and Goals To Set
Set financial resolutions any time of year with these suggestions. Find inspiration for budgeting, saving, and credit goals.
Is Overdraft Protection Worthwhile?
Is Overdraft Protection Worthwhile?
Overdraft protection enables transactions to complete when you have insufficient funds, but it has benefits and drawbacks to consider before opting-in.

EarnIn is a financial technology company not a bank. Subject to your available earnings, Daily Max and Pay Period Max. EarnIn does not charge interest on Cash Outs. EarnIn does not charge hidden fees for use of its services. Restrictions and/or third party fees may apply. EarnIn services may not be available in all states. For more info visit earnin.com/TOS.

Download on the App Store
4.7 +189K ratings
Download on Google Play
4.6 +200K ratings