Nearly every personal finance blogger has written about the importance of an emergency fund at one time or another. Today, I experienced that reality first hand.
One of my dogs, a rescued boxer, fell ill over the weekend. Unexplained symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting in a 2 year old dog are not good.
So off to the vet we went, with full expectations of a hefty bill. It’s a good thing we had him checked, as he had potential intestinal blockage. Two ex-rays, fluids and a shot later, Tank is now on the mend.
And our emergency fund is $330 lighter. Ouch! Thank goodness we have money in place for situations such as this. You just never know what may come up.
A few years ago, that vet bill would gone straight onto a high-interest credit card. I used to believe that credit cards were necessary for potential emergencies. Now, we fund our own emergencies, interest free.
A pet is a huge responsibility, one that we fully accepted when we became pet owners. An emergency fund is especially important for those with pets. After today, I would even recommend a separate emergency fund just for unexpected pet expenses.
Beyond just avoiding more debt, having an emergency fund is actually Biblical. Consider these verses from Proverbs:
“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but [the] foolish . . . devour all [they have]” (Proverbs 21:20).
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers it food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:8).
Dave Ramsey recommends an initial emergency fund of $1000 for those paying off debt. Beyond that, 3-6 months worth of living expenses is his next step.
Of course, the Ramsey way may not be for everyone, so I encourage you to find what works for your family.
I believe it is important to continue giving what you can, even while saving and paying down debt. There is a fine line between saving and hoarding, as illustrated in Luke chapter 12:
And he gave them an illustration: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. So he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, my friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship
with God” (Luke 12:16-21 NLT).
Personally, I do not want a “bigger barn”, but a rich relationship with the Lord, and a healthy emergency fund.
Even those without pets will need those funds sooner or later. A flat tire, an appliance repair, an unexpected trip to the dentist. What a relief it is to pay cash for such things! That dreaded feeling as you whip out the plastic, gone.
How has an emergency fund saved you from more debt? Do you believe they are necessary?
They’re definitely a necessity. That’s great you had that available and I hope you’re able to build it back up/replace the money quickly. Unfortunately, I don’t have an emergency fund now.
I was actually able to buy a brand new furnace last fall, largely due to my emergency fund! I was so excited!! I would never have been able to do that before going through Financial Peace University. I’m still steadily working on getting my emergency fund back up where it needs to be, but it was such a relief to actually be able to make such a big, yet necessary, purchase and not borrow one dime!!
We could not have made it through 2007 without our emergency fund! We have been frugal over the years in so many ways. We really never lived beyond our means. We paid our credit cards off every month, paid cash for cars, saved for retirement, and so on. I honestly believe that sometimes, my huband had savings accounts for savings accounts. 🙂
For years, that 8 months of living expenses sat there. I was tempted on occasion to tap it for an awesome vacation to Europe when our airline tickets would have been free! Or a self car loan to get that spiffy new SUV. But My hubby steered us clear. Wise man!
Late 2006, I give birth to a sweet baby girl. The savings helped cover all kinds of new expenses. But the expenses didn’t stop. My daughter had a potentially serious intenstial issue that required surgery when she was 2 1/2 months old. The next week our dog died. The following week, my husband was diagnosed with Lymphoma.
Starting in January, 2007 was the really tough year. My hubby and I are self-employed. No work, no pay. He spent 3 month in the hospital that year. Most of the time ( both in and out of the hospital), he required a tremendous amount of care. We went from a two income family to a half of an income family. We lost 75% of our income that year. Now pile on top of that all the medical bills. We could have lost everything,been in financial ruin. But we were OK. Today, we have afraction of the savings we once had, but it is growing slowly but surely. Throughout that time, we paid every bill on time. More importantly, we continued to tithe and give to others. Sure, we would really like to fix our master shower. But I can continue to use the hall bathroom for a while longer. The house needs a coat of paint. But it will have to wait too. God has carried us through far bigger trials than a broken shower or a coat of paint.
Oh by the way, today, my hubby is 100% cancer free. And since his cancer was so aggressive, they consider him cured.
An emergency fund is definately a good thing. I am so glad that we have one.
Just an fyi, you might want to check into getting pet insurance. We got a policy for each of our dogs (one is 11 and one is 7) and they come in really handy. A couple of years ago our young dog got bit by a brown recluse spider in our yard. Without the insurance we would have wound up paying, out of pocket, in excess of $1200, but because of the insurance, we only had to pay about $150.
Just my two cents worth.
I just had a chuckle, because the very first emergency we encountered after starting our Dave Ramsey plan was a pet emergency involving xrays!
It was such a comfort to not have a minor heart attack when faced with the expense. A blessing to know we could afford to take care of our own needs and not borrow!
We’ve had to dip into our $1000 baby emergency fund a couple of times. It makes me feel so much more confident to know that we have that $1000 there — just in case. I know that God will provide, and I’ve seen Him do it in more creative ways than with a credit card. We limit Him when we rely on our plastic instead of on His provision. Our emergency fund has been a huge blessing to us, allowing us to put away the plastic.
Great post! We also have an emergency fund, and it’s such a relief to know that money is there when we need a car repair or something like that. Like you, we used to use our credit card for emergencies, and we are still paying off the bill!
The Happy Housewife says
Great post. We have an emergency fund too. It was funny about 2 or 3 weeks after we had ours fully funded we found out we needed around $2000 in car repairs. We weren’t thrilled about spending the money, but at least we had the money to spend!
Trista Teeter says
Last week our car up and died on the side of the highway (insert image of one sick and tired mommy clinging to her 3 year old’s hand and attempting to push her 10 month old through the thick mud in the pouring rain. Thank HEAVENS for nice people!!!). Yeah, it’s dead. I’m none too happy about spending our BEF on a new car (the van was completely paid for), but I’m actually pretty excited to get a beater (for awhile, lol)!!! 🙂
My husband got appendicitis a few months ago and accumulated over $20,000 in hospital bills in less than 24 hours. While we do have insurance, our out-of-pocket portion was still pretty hefty. It was helpful to have an emergency fund in that situation. The best part: If you pay your bill within 15 days, our local hospital will give you 25% off your bill. Not only were we able to stay out of debt by having our emergency fund, we were also able to save 25% of what we would have owed had we not had the money on-hand.
Holly Urbanek says
Glad Tank is ok. He is such a sweet dog!
Glad to hear your furbaby is ok after such a scare.
The Thrifty Geek says
Thanks for the post. We all need reminders often of the importance of an emergency fund.
We have a boxer also. She is part of the family.
Boyd Team says
My husband and I have been on Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover for awhile now. The emergency fund was our number one priority. We put $3,700 in a Money Management account and have managed to keep it there and are slowly growing it! It’s a sense of security for us. Always knowing if something happens we have the financial backing to take care of it.
We’ve always had an emergency fund and I think it’s a definite necessity, for just the reasons you said–so you don’t have to pay interest later!
We had to replace our water heater last year, and then also had our washer go out (though after the repairman told us we’d need a new one, my hubby figured out how to fix it, saving us hundreds of dollars!–gotta love the internet!) Now hubby needs new tires and a bathroom needs replacing, but we won’t rely on credit for any of it!
A next step to the emergency fund, is USING THE RIGHT CREDIT CARD to pay at the office. Here’s what I mean: We use UPromise Mastercard, and PRE-PAY ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING we use it for. This way, 1% (more for manufacturers special offers) goes back to my UPromise.com site savings account. TO PAY FOR COLLEGE! So, it doesn’t sound like much of a savings, but it truly adds up. So, if you spend $300 at the vet, go home and bill pay the $300 to the credit card you just used. You have it paid for AND you saved for college!
My husband and I have found that having an emergency fund is very important and so helpful to have.
Liz @ Frugally Blonde says
Thanks for an inspiring post. I linked to on my blog here:
Marianne Thomas says
Glad Tank is ok — did he eat something he shouldn’t have?
I totally believe in an emergency fund as a cornerstone to starting to get out of debt. Life happens and it usually happens quite expensively.
Take care! And give Tank a yummy bone from me!