What is a recommended amount to keep in our emergency fund?
I am 27 years old and recently married. My wife and I have steady jobs and make around $150K of joint income. We both have put an importance on savings and investing for goals down the road, such as raising for a family and an eventual home purchase. While we save and have liquid funds to support our current needs, how much should we have stashed away in a liquid emergency account? What kind of account do you recommend and how much should we have in it? Do we factor in our plans to have children down the road, or should we just have a certain amount for the both of us in case of an emergency?
My own personal standard for an emergency fund is one year of expenses. This is a minimum, I am actually thinking about increasing it to two years.
I have learned from experience that it takes one to two years to recover from a serious financial/business setback. Bear in mind, we are talking about something major here that results in a substantial loss of income, and which will require some rebuilding to get back to normal.
I don't want to have to dip into my retirement or investment accounts in this situation. I want to depend exclusively on the reserve fund, and let it do its job. So, I think it's better to over-fund it, as opposed to under-fund it and jeopardize my other monies.
I use a simple cash account with my broker. No fees, no interest, and liquid. If I needed the money in two hours, I can get it.
As my cash picture changes, the role of this reserve fund will change. In my next stage of life, I may want it to be larger. Or, if I reduce my expenses, it will be smaller.
The rule of thumb is three to six months of living expenses so that would include you and your wife for now, and if and when you have a family then that amount may be recalculated to reflect your larger family.
You could keep those cash reserves in your bank or brokerage account. Some financial institutions will pay minimal interest but with interest rates as low as they have been that is your best option in order to be 100% liquid.
I'd say based on your age look at 6 months of expenses to have in a high yield online savings account like Marcus, or Synchrony. Once you've achieved that I would suggest a blend of other savings vehicles for other purposes. Retirement should be highly important to get started now. And if buying a home or other things are on the horizon some sort of liquid savings account for those dollars makes good sense to me. It really behooves you to sit down and think through what you are aiming to do with your other funds and goals then strategize the most efficient and best way to get there. But to start get those emergency savings down and the rest you can figure out.
Dear Young 27, Married, Steady jobs, $150,000 joint income, Wanting to establish an emergency fund,
Congratulations to you both on your recent Marriage! Bravo for sharing a wonderful commitment!
You are thinking ahead, developing a financial conscious mindset, saving an emergency fund- fabulous.
FINANCIAL SAFETY FOR EMERGENCIES
An emergency fund will save you in case of all emergencies; events unexpected, necessary and urgent expenses though events that must be planned for regardless.
Differentiate this fund from any and all cost of living expenses. An emergency fund is separate from a source of money to save for a home, money for school, money for food and clothing. Such money must be allocated for emergencies only; things that happen in life, not expected but they happen unfortunately; sudden loss of income, sudden illness, something you must do for a family member or friend, a tragedy or disaster does happen. This is what life is about. Unfortunate but true. No one else is going to plan for it but you.
PEACE OF MIND- STATE OF MIND
Though you are young, yes, 27 is wonderfully young, this is the perfect time.
Formulate a mindset today, think about saving, investing, budgeting, emergency planning and long term budgeting which will include an emergency fund (inquisitive & focused mindset required). Force yourself now to visualize the long term for you and your spouse. Start now to compete with yourself, for the benefit of both of you, to create an expectation long term.
Make your plan a visual plan. Also write the plan on paper. Dedicate yourself and your partner to amass a one year safety net of funds between you and your partner. This long term process will result in a design involving fabulous bonding and trust between the two of you to create like purposes of financial security rather than not coming together financially and living a life of mixed purposes often leading to marital discord about money.
Dedicate yourself to have conversation(s), gain understanding of a strategy to save long term for emergencies and financial independence. This mind set of mental strength shared between a husband and a wife is golden. You will both be on the same page about financial expectations now and going forward. This is blissful.
SECURITY OF AN EMERGENCY FUND
An emergency fund must be safe and secure. Emergency money is not to be utilized whimsically, not "easily accessible" by either one of you. Safety and security is key.
Place funds in an account not utilzed by you on a regular basis so you or your husband will not draw from the funds. You both know the funds are present in an account but neither one of you can touch the funds, scouts honor.
You and your husband must share such immense trust, total belief and an oath of confidence to keep the monies safe no matter what purchase either one of you "has to have" over time. A firm money mindset with a goal for financial independence and a desire for long term security in case of emergencies, key to success.
Communication about funding emergencies, consistent discussions regarding your plans for Financial Independence and funding for emergencies must start once you tie the knot and continue ongoing in a long term relationship for success throughout the lifetime of the family, home and stability for generations to come.
FUNDING AN EMERGENCY FUND
The quantity of funds between the two of you as couple should be equal to one year combined income. The amount of funds can vary however it is always best to have in reality more than less money available to you.
LOCATION OF EMERGENCY FUNDS
Place funds in a simple checking or money market account. Money in either of these types of accounts will be free to remove funds quickly and easily versus accounts incurring a tax consequence if withdrawn early.
STRATEGY & FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
Be Creative; develop strategies to form an emergency investment fund to include ways for you and your husband to work together on projects, tasks you otherwise would have farmed out to other people. Sample tasks (cleaning house or washing cars) save money allowing the emergency fund to grow. Sharing responsibility of chores may form a tight bond between you and your husband benefitting you long term.
Another creative strategy is to perform side hustles (Uber, dog walking, caring for children, a barista at Starbucks). Opportunities are out there, pick a passion, make money, translate into a stream of income or an entrepreneurial ability you did not think possible. Make it fun, entrepreneurial, present tense!
A third strategy is to sell things clutter in your life. Be free from encumbrances. Make a strategy, a game.
See what you can do to rid yourself of clothes, books, belongings, make this an adventure. With the removal of items that were taking up space in your precious life comes time to think of other ways to be creative.
A forth strategy is budget, budget and budget. Youth are forming FI groups (Financial Independence). They are collectively and individually becoming frugal, more aware, vowing to get rid of debt, live simply, on a crusade to become free from expenses, free from debt. This takes discipline, mind control. In the end, great values about money are established, a life of freedom and control, a life knowing you have your emergencies covered.
PEACE OF MIND
Whatever strategy you take as a couple, the process though difficult will assist you to gain greater peace of mind with each and every amount of money you are able to put away. Over time, you become stronger as an individual and as a couple. I stopped Starbucks and an expensive health club membership. I thought I needed both of these things, I was initially crushed to get rid of the expense. Now, after months, I do not miss these things. I replaced spending "habits" with an ability to save $1000 or more each and every month to put to savings. My partner's desire to save and not spend was actually what I needed. I wish we had spoken about money openly. Be open to change, be open to talk about money!
Plan your long term strategy, form your emergency fund. Take baby steps, reward yourself!
A LIFE OF INVESTING FOR THE FUTURE
Whatever investment funds you create; long term funds with value strategies or active short term strategies with individual stock selections, a mindset of saving is key toward the attainment of financial independence.
Good luck to the both of you as you make your way together in life!
All the best to you with your recent marriage!
I am honored to answer your question.
Please send additional questions...
Jan Attard, MBA, Wealth Management Specialist
Technical & Fundamental Market Analysis
J. Oliver Maxwell, LLC
tele. # 925-876-1377
How much you should have stashed away: While 2 to 6 months of expenses is a good rule of thumb for the size of your emergency fund, it’s highly dependent on your circumstances. For example, if you and your wife have predictable, stable income in high-demand professions, two or three months might be fine for you. On the other hand, if you are in a highly cyclical, commission-based business and it would take a long time to find a new job in your industry if you were laid off, then 6 months might be more appropriate.
Factoring in children down the road: For now, I think you should consider just the two of you when thinking about the size of your emergency fund, but consider increasing the size of the emergency fund once you know you are having your first child. For example, if you currently don’t have consumer debt or a mortgage, then 3 months could work now, but once you have kids and a mortgage, 6 months is probably more appropriate.
Keep in mind opportunity costs: It’s a delicate balance: you’ll be more protected and probably sleep easier with a larger emergency fund, but that should be weighed against the opportunity cost of a large portion of your money earning low interest rates. For every $100,000 earning the 1% or so in your emergency fund, you’ll have an opportunity cost of about $500 a month over the long term versus a diversified market portfolio.
What kind of account you should have: In choosing the right account for your emergency fund, you might want to monitor various bank savings rates, money market fund yields and short-term CD rates to maximize the yield you’re getting. Also, it’s probably best to avoid using your Roth IRA as an emergency fund since you’ll want to preserve the valuable tax-exemption of these assets.
Also, you might want to keep in mind the two goals of the emergency fund: defense and offense. The fund is not only about preventing you from taking on debt, selling investments in a down market, or avoiding an early retirement fund distribution if you had a career or medical emergency, the emergency fund also allows you to take advantage of opportunities. When you have an appropriate emergency fund, this would afford you to opportunity to follow your passion and start a new business, or take a job that’s a better fit in another city.
Good luck to you, please feel free to reach out with any additional questions!