An emergency savings provides more than just funds to cover unforeseen expenses. Saving away money for emergencies can give you peace of mind and help keep you from resorting to using high-interest credit cards or liquidating investments.
Less than half of Americans say that they have enough emergency savings to cover at least three months’ worth of expenses, and one in four say that have no emergency savings at all1. Without an emergency savings fund, unexpected life events like vehicle breakdowns, costly medical bills, or losing your job can mean financial stress and instability.
Even if you have competing financial priorities like paying off debt, saving for a home, or investing for retirement, growing your emergency savings should be a part of your financial strategy. Don’t have an emergency fund? It’s never too late to start!
An emergency fund is something you can build over time; continually working towards a savings goal. That goal may change as you become more financially stable, grow in your career or your financial obligations increase. Typically, an emergency savings should have enough funds to cover at least three to six months’ worth of expenses.
However, if your household is supported solely by your income, your income greatly varies from month to month (commissions or bonuses), or if you plan on taking any unpaid leave in the near future, you may want to consider increasing your emergency savings to cover at least 12 months’ worth of expenses.
How to Start Growing Your Emergency Savings:
Review Your Finances & Create a Budget
Before setting your savings goal, first establish a budget. A budget will allow you to understand your finances and how much you can afford to save each month. Track your expenses and income over the last several months. Look for areas where you could cut back and determine a savings goal that fits your financial situation. Remember, it’s okay to start small and to increase how much you save over time. For more information about how to start budgeting, visit our Jump-Start Your Budget blog post.
Choose the Right Savings Account
Make sure you’re getting the most out of your emergency fund. Keep your fund in an account that has the most benefits for your needs. Civista offers a variety of savings options, including a basic savings account that has no minimum balance requirement for the first year, to help you get started. As your savings grows, you may want to consider a Civista Money Market Investment Account, which gives savers the potential to earn higher rates with growing balances. Other savings options available include: Certificates of Deposit (CDs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Holiday Savings Club Account, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).
Automate Your Savings
After you know what you can save, direct a portion of your income to be automatically deposited to your savings account and watch as your emergency fund builds each payday. You can also set up recurring transfers within your Civista Digital Banking as another way to save automatically.
Mistakes to Avoid:
Avoiding common mistakes is crucial when starting to grow your emergency fund. First, ensure you're saving regularly. Consistency is key, even if you're only able to save a small amount each month. Second, resist the temptation to dip into your emergency savings for non-emergencies . This fund should be reserved for unexpected expenses like medical emergencies or sudden job loss. If you find yourself frequently wanting to use these funds, it might be a sign that you need to revisit your budget or establish a separate savings account for non-emergency expenses. Lastly, remember to adjust your savings goals based on your financial circumstances. If your monthly expenses increase, don’t forget to adjust your savings goals. Increase the amount you’re saving, as possible. Remember it’s okay to grow your savings slowly. As long as you’re doing it consistently – you’ll get there!