Stop being jealous, start getting results: the $10,000 Emergency Fund

One of my favorite personal finance bloggers and BFFs offline is Mikhaila from A Fistful O’ Dollars. I really adore Mikhaila because she is smart, into fashion and frequently responds to my text messages with hilarious GIFs. But one of the things I admire most about Mikhaila is that she’s saved up a…

$10,000 Emergency Fund.

So awesome! Needless to say, I’m a tad jealous of that awesome financial security. I wish I had a $10,000 emergency fund! That about would be about 6 months of essential living expenses for me, and just seeing such a big beautiful round number of dollars would give me a daily dose of happiness and security. Alas, how was I ever going to accumulate that much in my Emergency Fund? I struggle to keep it at $3,000! I guess I’ll just be jealous of Mikhaila forever.

….or I could just figure out a plan and start working on a $10,000 Emergency Fund myself.

Because it’s not as hard as it looks at first glance. With some rough calculations I figured I could get my EF up to $5,000 by the end of this year, which means I’d only have another $5,000 to go. If I set my timeline to have a $10,000 Emergency Fund by 29 and contribute $250/mo, I’ll be right one schedule — I mean, assuming no emergencies make me withdraw some or all of the funds.

See? It’s not even challenging, it’s just a matter of setting up automatic transfers from my chequing to my savings account. The downside is I’ll have to wait 1.5 years to see the final result, but for a five-figure sum that’s not too bad. Like most financial goals, the number itself is intimidating the but the path to get there is pretty straightforward. I think I’m lucky that after so many years of blogging about money, an 18 month financial commitment to put $250/mo away is relatively easy. The hardest part is always building the habit in the first place, but once you’re used to giving up part of your income for paying down debt or saving for retirement, it’s just something you know how to do so you feel confident taking on something else.

This would provide me with 6 months of essential living expenses and probably solidify my eternal friendship with Mikhaila because few things say “I am a PF master” the way a $10,000 EF does.

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Have you decided to take on a big financial goal? What’s your plan, man?

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Comments

  1. I decided to try for a $10,000 emergency fund at the beginning of June. My goal is to get there by the end of the year. It’s pretty much the same plan I had when paying down my student loan debt – put my last paycheck every month straight into savings while cutting back on unnecessary spending.

    Do you have a plan for where you’ll stick the EF once you reach your goal? I’m looking at a fee-free 4 year CD. Might as well get paid to have a $10,000 EF if I can. ;)

    • I’m of the crazy mindset that says keep you EF it a readily accessible chequing or savings account. I know lots of people don’t like to do that because like you they want to earn a bigger return on their money, but I’m just fine with the 1.35% interest in my tax-free savings account! I have other money in investments and that’s earning a bigger return, so I can focus solely on a big fat EF.

      • Where are you getting 1.35% on a savings account?! Damn. My measly 0.84% is looking pretty sad right about now.

        My thinking is, because I have enough cashflow each month to handle the smaller emergencies (~$1,400), I can immediately begin saving a smaller EF to keep handy for little things while putting the big bucks to work in a CD. Anything bigger than $1,400 (like unexpectedly replacing a car) could wait a few days for the money to be withdrawn from the CD. But I understand the peace of mind having that kind of cash readily available can give a person.

  2. What sorts of guidelines would you have in mind for when you can spend the EF money? I tend to sometimes have an issue deciding what qualifies as an emergency, and wouldn’t want to take too much money out too early.

    • I would constitute an emergency as being laid off from work and needing to buy the necessities like food and pay rent.

      I would also consider a family emergency like if one of my parents was ill or injured and I needed to see them (they live in the USA, so it’s a $600-$800 flight!)

      At this point I don’t own a car or a home, but I might in the future which is why I want a big EF. Then an emergency would constitute any emergency house or car repairs as well (but not general maintenance, I’d save for that separately).

    • I agree with Bridget. You have to set certain restrictions for yourself so you won’t abuse the fund, and laying those out at the beginning is a good way to go (for example, I have the $10,000 EF but I also have a separate fund for flights in case a family member is sick – it’s my preference, personally). Gail Vaz-Oxlade sums it up pretty nicely here: http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/articles/just_in_case/its_an_emergency.html . Then once you define what your EF is for exactly, then you can figure out how much should be in it and what your savings strategy should be.

  3. Good luck reaching your goal! We’re a couple months away from knocking out the last of our big debts (except for our mortgage), and that’s been our big focus for the last year and half. =)

  4. $10,000 is my target number as well. I don’t live in a very high cost area so it would do nicely. Good luck!

  5. We have a large EF fund, and it definitely eases my concern. Although for me a good EF fund would be $20,000.
    Right now we are saving up for a down payment and costs plus a nice savings cushion. We should have $50,000 by then. We are almost there. My calculations say we should be there by mid-August. It’s a good thing because interest rates and housing prices are rising and inventory is at all time low. Ughhh….

  6. Girl, I am rooting for you! $5,000/year is very attainable. I will try to enable you less while you are working toward this goal, but I can’t guarantee it.

    PS: I don’t know what to do with all the flattery going on in this post so I’ll just say thank you again because it’s fantastic and I love it!

  7. I don’t have an emergency fund. I only have the one savings account with $24,000 in it (towards a down payment)
    If some unexpected cost comes up, I pay it out of that & then build the balance back up again ASAP, so I guess it could double as an EF?

  8. I ended up saving about that much in my emergency fund and I’m so glad I did because now I can actually afford to be unemployed for a bit while job hunting in TO. But it did take me a long while to save that up, and I definitely depended on automatic withdrawals but you can do it girl!

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