If you’re basically any person working on getting out of debt, living paycheck to paycheck, on a fixed income, or basically any combination that any bill, charge, or unexpected fee over $5 can cause panic and wreck havoc on your financial situation, you need an emergency fund. “Why do I need an emergency fund?” you say? Well, because as the basic definition of emergency says, you’re not going to be prepared for it. But, you know, if you somehow are prepared for it, it won’t throw you very far off track from your goals.
I know, it’s hard to save money when you’re in these situations, I’ve been there. I know how difficult it is. And you know, when it rains (figuratively) it pours and storms, all over you. Take for example, just last week my car stopped working, my hand experienced some terrible nerve pain, and the water heater broke. It turned out the car just needed a jumpstart. But the next day, while out getting some groceries, it started making all kinds of lurchy movements and awkward smells. We took it into the shop and the total for all necessary repairs came to $600 and that doesn’t include the repair they suggested on my exhaust system.
A month ago I didn’t have $600 to spend on car repairs. A month ago I would’ve gone crazy with worry, fear, and frustration. Last week I fretted. I asked repeatedly “are you sure we have $600?” I was a basic pain in Nick’s side. But I didn’t go crazy. Because we had just reached a point in our savings where we had extra money. We were going to use that to buy a lawnmower so we could cancel our lawn service. But we decided not to do that just yet, you know, just in case. And I’m glad we waited, because it’s easier to cough up $30 every two weeks than try to figure out how to pay a mechanic with money you simply don’t have.
My hand cost $54 for the urgent care co-pay and medication. Again, a month ago, I didn’t have a spare $54. I would’ve just cried myself to sleep or overdosed on ibuprofen. It hurt beyond any feeling I’ve ever experienced. Thankfully, the pain disappeared shortly after I wrote the post about it and I haven’t had to take any more of these meds. So, like I told my mom, I’m fine. I swear. If it was a super power, it’s gone dormant.
And the water heater? Well, it highlights the very reason people shouldn’t buy a house unless they have money saved for repairs and emergencies. Thankfully, we know we didn’t have that kind of money and rented a house when we moved here. Our landlords had a contracting agency replace our entire water heater and I had repairmen in my house until 11:30 p.m. the other night, and then again for two hours the next morning. But now I have a new water heater and I didn’t have to pay a dime. It felt nice not to worry too much about it.
I’m a worrier. It’s just part of my nature. I stress out a lot. But when I have an emergency fund to pick up the tab when something crazy happens, I feel okay. Nothing feels as good as freedom. For more information on how to build an emergency fund on low income and other financial resources, check out the links below.