How Much Should You Have in Your Emergency Fund? 3 Financial Experts Weigh In

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  • Having an emergency fund is crucial to avoid debt and protect your finances.
  • You'll need to decide how much money to put in your emergency fund.
  • Different financial experts have offered varying advice on the issue.

These expert tips can help you decide how much to save.

Everyone should consider having an emergency fund in a high-yield savings account where the money is accessible. An emergency fund is crucial to avoid financial disaster in case of an income drop or surprise costs. Without one, you may be unable to afford to keep paying the bills or to cover unexpected expenses without using a credit card or otherwise going into debt.

But just how much should be in your emergency fund? This is a complicated question to answer, but listening to what the experts have to say could help you make an informed choice about what you need to save for a rainy day.

Here's how much three finance gurus believe you should set aside.

This is how much Suze Orman says you should have saved

Suze Orman is more conservative than many other financial experts when it comes to the amount you should put into savings for emergencies. She recommends a larger emergency fund that provides more protection.

"Your long-term goal is to have eight months of living expenses set aside in your emergency fund," Orman said. "I know that's a lot, but I want you and your loved ones to be okay if you were ever laid off, or sick for an extended period of time."

She acknowledged it could take a long time to save so much, but recommended working on it over time and beginning ASAP in trying to build your savings. "The important issue is that you are starting to save today and so every month you will be moving closer to your goal," Orman said.

This is how much Dave Ramsey says you should have saved

Dave Ramsey's advice on an emergency fund is a little more complicated. He has actually suggested a differing amount of savings depending on your overall financial situation.

"If you have consumer debt, I recommend saving a starter emergency fund of $1,000 first," Ramsey said. He made this suggestion so you can focus on paying off debt but also have something to fall back on so you aren't trapped in a cycle where you make progress on debt payoff but then have to borrow again as soon as something unexpected happens.

But, after you've repaid all that you owe, Ramsey's suggestion comes a little closer to Orman's. "Once you're out of debt, it's time to beef up that amount and save three to six months of expenses in a fully funded emergency fund," Ramsey recommended.

This is a wide range, but Ramsey gave some follow-up advice, suggesting that if your job is stable or there are two incomes in your household, you can err on the side of a smaller fund. But for those with less stable incomes, including self-employed people and people who work on commission, a larger fund is needed.

This is how much Mark Cuban says you should have saved

Finally, billionaire investor Mark Cuban has similar advice to Ramsey, although he errs on the side of a larger fund.

"If you don't like your job at some point or you get fired or you have to move or something goes wrong, you're going to need at least six months' income," Cuban told Vanity Fair.

Ultimately, it's up to you whether you want a three-month fund, a six-month fund, an eight-month fund, something in between, or even a larger amount saved. But the bottom line is, while there is disagreement about how much to save, the important thing is to have something set aside to protect your future.

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