Could You Weather a Financial Emergency?
Financial emergencies come in all shapes and sizes, from a natural disaster destroying a home to sudden unemployment to unexpected illness or injury. You usually can't predict when or where a crisis may strike, but you can prepare. As a matter of fact, one trait that most financial emergencies share is that those who are adequately prepared have a much better chance of surviving with no long-term ill effects.
Financial experts recommend that you build an emergency fund of three to six months' worth of living expenses and keep it in an easily accessible, liquid account. But fewer than four out of 10 American adults have such a cushion, according to a nationwide poll.* Older survey participants were more apt to have money on hand. More than half of people age 65 or older could get through a three-month emergency, while less than a quarter of those age 18 to 24 could.
Preparing for the Unexpected
For most people, no matter what age, there's room for improvement on the financial cushion. Consider these tips.
Get started. Choose a vehicle, such as a savings or money market account, and make an initial deposit.
Add to it regularly. Make frequent, affordable deposits. The key is to make regular deposits, not huge ones. Direct deposit or an automatic transfer from a checking account puts your savings on auto pilot.
Maximize earnings. If you can't afford the initial minimum deposit of a money market account, start with a savings account, then transfer the money to boost your earnings when you've saved the money market account's minimum.
Keep it growing. Resist the temptation to dip into your emergency fund for anything other than a true emergency. A three-day sale on that sound system you've been eyeing doesn't count.
* Source: Bankrate.com