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Emergency Fund Calculator

Dana George

Our Banking Expert

Nathan Alderman
Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page. APY = Annual Percentage Yield. APYs are subject to change at any time without notice.

Ben Franklin famously wrote that nothing can be certain in this world, except death and taxes. Old Ben might have wanted to add emergencies to that list.

No matter how well we plan, emergencies arise. And that's why it's so important to have an emergency fund. What is an emergency fund? It's money you set aside that can cover your living expenses after an emergency while you get back on your feet. Here, we'll cover how much we might need in emergency savings and smart places to consider storing our financial safety net.

Use our emergency fund calculator below to get started.

Emergency Fund Calculator

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Your ideal emergency fund:

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Based on your monthly spending of ${{ spending }} with a goal of saving 3 - 6 months.

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  • 4 Month Emergency Fund: ${{ efund(4) }}
  • 5 Month Emergency Fund: ${{ efund(5) }}
  • 6 Month Emergency Fund: ${{ efund(6) }}

Ready to get started?

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Fill out the inputs to see how much you should save for an emergency fund. The total will be 6 times your monthly amounts

How much should I have in an emergency fund?

Three to six months' worth of living expenses.

(At least, that's the general rule of thumb.)

If you're not quite sure how large an emergency fund you need, don't worry! The above emergency fund calculator can help you develop an emergency savings goal.

If you're too busy to crunch the numbers, start with a goal of saving a set amount from each paycheck -- even if it's just $10. Getting started with saving is more important than having an absolutely perfect savings goal.

Where is the best place to keep an emergency fund?

The best place to keep an emergency fund is somewhere stable and accessible, like a savings account. Your emergency fund shouldn't be in stocks (not stable) or your home value (not accessible).

It can help to have your emergency savings in a different account than your regular spending money. This way, you won't need to worry about keeping track of how much you have saved. You also won't accidentally spend your emergency fund.

You'll want to keep your money in an account that is immediately accessible. We'll tell you how you can ensure this a bit later in the article. 

Savings accounts come in a variety of flavors. We'll go over the types of savings accounts below so you can decide which is best for you.

High-yield savings account

What it is: A high-yield savings account is like other savings accounts -- but it pays a higher interest rate.

Online banks don't have as many operating costs as brick-and-mortar banks, so they can afford to offer higher interest rates.

Where to find it: Most of these accounts are available through online-online banks.


What about a regular savings account?

Emergency savings funds can be kept in a regular savings account, but that's not necessarily the best place to keep them. Here's why: The interest on regular savings accounts doesn't always keep up with inflation (or even come close). So over time, your account could actually decrease in value. Consider opening an account that provides a higher interest rate while still allowing access to funds if an unexpected expense arises.

Certificate of deposit (CDs)

What it is: A "share certificate" or "certificate of deposit" (CD) is simple and stable. It's similar to a savings account, with a few key differences:

  • You'll put all your money in at once.
  • You'll promise to leave your money untouched for a set period of time.
  • When it's time to take money out, you'll take it all out at once.
  • You'll pay a penalty if you have to withdraw money early.

To learn more about CDs, head to our guide: What is a CD?

Where to find it: You can open CDs at most banks and credit unions.

Money market account

What it is: If a checking account and savings account got married, a money market account (MMA) would be their kid. With an MMA, you can:

  • Save a little at a time
  • Take money out when you need it
  • Get a debit card and checks linked to the account
  • Earn interest

To learn more about money market accounts, check out our guide: What is a money market account?

Where to find it: You can get an MMA online or walk into your neighborhood bank and open an MMA there.

Potential hold times worth noting

Until the COVID-19 pandemic, a law called Regulation D allowed banks to put a hold on deposits for as long as seven days. However, in April 2020, the Federal Reserve Board suspended Regulation D and, as of now, has no plans to reinstate it. However, banks can set their own hold policies, and some banks continue to charge customers fees for things like making too many transactions in one month -- even though the regulation that once supported their actions ended more than three years ago. 

That said, keep in mind that your bank may (or may not) put a hold on the funds you've deposited. If you're at all concerned, now is the time to ask about your bank's policy. 

How to protect yourself

If your financial institution imposes a waiting period, make it a practice to deposit funds into your checking account for the duration of that time. Then, transfer funds into savings. That way, you have access to the funds right away. 

How to start an emergency fund

Anyone can build an emergency savings fund. Here's how:

  1. Set an emergency savings goal (optional -- you can start without a goal!)
  2. Figure out how much you can commit to saving each month after your most important bills (like rent and loan payments) are taken care of.
  3. Stick to your plan.

First, use the calculator above to calculate emergency fund options for your lifestyle.

Not everyone will need to save the same amount! The calculator above will give you suggestions for both a minimum amount to save and a maximum amount. Whether you're looking for a three-, four-, or even six-month emergency fund calculator, it can help.

Still not sure how much you should save? Here are some emergency fund examples:

  • Olivia is the only source of income for her family of three. In an emergency, her family would rely on savings to cover any unexpected costs. She decides to save enough to cover six months of expenses.
  • John is single and lives in his hometown. If he had an emergency, he would move in with his parents for a few months to save money. He decides to save enough to cover three months of expenses.
  • Kai and their partner both have fairly stable jobs. In the unlikely event that Kai had an emergency, their partner's income would help offset any expenses or loss of income. Kai decides to save enough to cover four months of expenses.

When you're starting an emergency fund, how much to save is up to you. Think about what you would do in an emergency -- and use that information to make an educated decision on the amount you need in savings.

RELATED: Check out The Ascent's guide to finding the best credit card for emergencies.


  • The rule of thumb is that individuals should have enough in an emergency fund to cover three to six months of living expenses.

  • Add up essential living expenses for one month and multiply that amount by either three or six (this will depend on how much you're most comfortable having in case of emergency).

  • The "best" place depends on your own personal financial situation, but a high-yield savings account, certificate of deposit, or money market account are all FDIC-insured and offer a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account.

  • It can be accomplished in four steps:

    1. Set an emergency savings goal.
    2. Determine how much you can put away each month.
    3. Pay yourself first, before other expenses are paid each month (as long as you have enough income to cover your total monthly living expenses).
    4. Stick to your plan, no matter how tempted you may be to use emergency savings for another purpose.