Why You Shouldn't Feel Bad if You Have to Tap Your Emergency Fund
by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on May 15, 2021
You put your money into an emergency fund for a reason.
Most financial experts stress the importance of having a fully-funded emergency fund. This rainy day account should ideally contain enough money to cover three to six months of living expenses.
An emergency fund can help keep you from racking up credit card debt to cover unexpected costs, and it can give you peace of mind because you'll know that it protects you from financial disaster if things go wrong.
Saving up enough to fund your emergency account can be a challenge, though, and it can sometimes take months or years to build it up. So when you're hit with an unexpected expense and you have to take money out of this account, it can be devastating. You may feel like you're undoing all your hard work.
The reality, however, is that when you have a genuine emergency, you should never feel bad about taking money out of your emergency fund. That's exactly what the money is there for.
Withdrawing funds for an emergency is the right financial move
When you save money in an emergency fund, the goal is to avoid having to borrow when things go wrong.
That means if you're forced to take money out of your account for an unexpected emergency, you've accomplished the exact goal you set for yourself. You have the money you need without having to apply for a loan, worry about paying interest, or stress about where you'll get cash when you're coping with a problem.
Rather than feeling bad about having to take money out, you should congratulate yourself on your foresight and feel proud that the funds are there for you when you need them most. Celebrate the fact that your efforts mean this emergency won't become a financial disaster on top of whatever the issue is you're dealing with.
And, rest assured that once you've gotten through the crisis, you can rebuild your emergency fund since you've done it once already.
Minimize the likelihood of having to raid your emergency fund
Although you can and should take money out of your emergency fund when you need it, it's a good idea to try to minimize the number of "emergencies" that are likely to occur.
For example, many people rely on their emergency fund to cover unexpected home or car repairs that need to be made right away. And if you don't have the cash to cover them, this is indeed an emergency that can justify dipping into that money.
The reality, however, is that these costs are going to creep up eventually. So once you have rebuilt your emergency fund, aim to save some cash in a car fund and a home repair fund. Likewise, you may also want a dedicated savings account to cover health expenses, which is another common reason for tapping an emergency fund.
If you have money saved for all the inconveniences that you'll almost definitely experience at some point, then you'll no longer need to raid your emergency fund for these situations. You can keep that money safe for the truly unexpected things that you have no way of predicting.
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