Emergency Fund Tips for Moms
The first time I realized I was in need for some emergency fund tips was not long after after my 3-year old daughter was born. I got the call from my husband who was driving home from work, and he told me that the car had broken down.
The engine was shot and it was going to cost $3,500 to replace!
At the time, we were not financially sound people, and we didn’t have the cash for the repair. So, we ended up putting it on a credit card, at 22% interest.
Ever since then, I’ve made it a priority to brush upon on the basics of personal finance.
Because as the mom of two little kids, I not only feel an enormous responsibility for their well-being, safety, and general upbringing, but also for their financial security.
And along my journey of financial literacy, I learned that a big part of that financial security is an emergency fund.
What’s an emergency fund?
Basically, an emergency fund is a cash reserve that you set aside that should only be used for any sudden, big, unexpected costs that life may throw at you.
And this means actual, true financial emergencies. No, this sadly does not include plane tickets for vacation, a new iPad, or that new Coach bag you’ve had your eye on!
Why you need an emergency fund
So why is having an emergency fund such a fundamental principle of most personal finance experts?
Because without fail, financial emergencies will happen!
Think about it: chances are, some kind of financial calamity has happened to either your family, or someone you know, whether it be for health reasons, job loss, unexpected home/car repairs, or even unplanned travel expenses.
If you lost your job tomorrow, how would you and your family get by?
In a pinch, you could probably utilize a credit card, but if you can’t pay off the balance in full every month, you’re going to be paying a lot in interest!
How much should you have in your emergency fund?
On this point, the experts don’t really have a consensus. Some personal finance folks say you should have at least three months of living expenses stashed away, while others recommend up to a full year!
What’s more important than the total amount is that you just get started, and continue to add to it over time!
Tips on getting the ball rolling
Of course, if you have no emergency fund at all, then you’re going to be starting at zero! Which is fine; that’s where my husband and I started as well, and we now have nearly four months of living expenses stashed away.
How did we do it?
We started small, slowly, and deliberately.
There are countless ways you can save money as a family, but I’ll show you three of my favorites that really helped us slash our expenses and grow our stash.
1. You don’t need all the latest & greatest baby gear
If you’re a new mom or have another newborn in the family, it’s tempting to buy all the best baby gear like top of the line crib mattresses, organic baby food, and wipe warmers, but the truth is, if money is tight, you really don’t need that stuff!
Focus on getting only the essentials, and be sure to take advantage of second-hand clothing, and you can save a lot.
2. Pay yourself first every month
You know how when you get your paycheck, you make sure to take care of all your payment obligations, like your rent or mortgage, car payment, cell phone bill, cable bill, etc.?
Well, the truth is, the first person you should be paying every month is yourself!
Right when you get paid, make it a habit to transfer over a certain amount (whether it’s $25 or $50 or more) right into your savings account, before you pay off any of your bills. This way, you can ensure that your savings will grow!
3. Track your spending and cut any unnecessary expenses
No one likes to keep a budget and track expenses, me included. But I did this for a couple of months, and it allowed me to see where we were spending all our extra money, like too many nights out to eat, too many tips to Starbucks, and one too many trips to the shoe store!
Once I was aware of where my money was going, it allowed me to cut back in those areas! And since those expenses were being cut, that extra money was being funneled directly into our emergency fund.
Pretty soon, following these tips, our emergency stash was well on its way.