I Have $10,000 in Savings. Am I All Set With My Emergency Fund?

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  • The amount of money you aim for in emergency savings should be based on your specific expenses.
  • While $10,000 is certainly a lot of money to have saved, it may not be enough for you.

How much money do you need for solid protection?

There's a reason it's so important to save up for emergencies. You never know when life might throw you a curveball, and if you're not prepared financially, you could instantly land in debt or face other disastrous consequences. For example, if you were to lose your job and fall too far behind on your mortgage payments, you'd potentially risk losing your home.

If you're sitting on $10,000 in your savings account, you might assume you're all set as far as your emergency fund is concerned. After all, that is a lot of money. But while $10,000 may be an appropriate emergency fund for some people, that may not be the case for you.

It's all about your personal expenses

You should aim to have enough money in your emergency fund to cover three to six months of essential living costs. Those include things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, healthcare expenses, and food.

If your monthly essentials come to $2,500 a month, and you're comfortable with a four-month emergency fund, then you should be set with a $10,000 savings account balance. But if you typically spend $5,000 a month on essentials, which may be the case if you're a higher earner or have a large family, then $10,000 may not be adequate to buy you the protection you need.

In the event of job loss, for example, $10,000 in savings would cover two months of bills. But what if you work in a specialized field and it takes twice that much time to find a new job? In that case, you might easily blow through your savings and still be left in the lurch.

That's why you shouldn't set a random target for your emergency fund. Instead, you should base it off your personal expenses, and you can use an emergency fund calculator to figure out your specific savings needs.

Three months, six months, or somewhere in between?

For some people, three months' worth of essential living costs is a good emergency fund. For others, six months' worth of expenses is more appropriate. How do you know which end of that range you should aim for?

There's no single answer, so think about your financial situation. If you're married and both you and your spouse work, you may be okay with three months' worth of essential bills tucked away in savings, because if one of you were to lose your job, the other might still manage to bring in an income. On the other hand, if you're the sole breadwinner in a larger household, you may want to think about aiming for six months of expenses in the bank.

Similarly, if you're self-employed, you're generally not entitled to unemployment benefits in the event of job loss. In that situation, you may want to err on the side of saving more, even if you don't have any dependents.

Either way, run the numbers based on your specific bills to figure out a savings goal. You may end up landing on $10,000 -- but don't assume that if you've saved that much, you're automatically set.

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