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Most Americans don’t save enough for what they want, let alone for what they need: about 60% of us have less than $1,000 in savings now. That might cover the cost of a serious car repair, a trip to the emergency room, or a semester’s worth of books for your college-bound child, but not all three. Building and maintaining an emergency fund is vital for financial security; it’s the difference between keeping up with your monthly bills, and sliding into debt and possible bankruptcy.
Consider just how quickly any of these five situations drain your dollars and what an emergency fund does to protect you:
Illness not covered by insurance or loss of insurance: The average cost for a trip to the emergency room varies, but it’s higher than the average apartment rent: over $2,000, and that’s without an ambulance transport, which is frequently not covered by insurance. Many people with medical insurance lack coverage for dental and vision care. A typical dental cleaning and X-rays are about $400 to $500. An emergency fund provides medical care for minor illness, preventing the onset of major and more costly problems later.
Job loss, deployment, or downsizing: The perfect job for life can disappear at any time, or downsize to part-time or contract work, leaving you and your family with the same monthly bills due and less money to pay them. Active military personnel face regular deployment, removing them from the home and leaving the spouse to take care of chores, children, and finances. Some military spouses stop working due to stress, a lack of child care, or the need to care for other family members during a deployment. An emergency fund provides peace of mind for several months, until the employment situation is stable or the deployment ends.
Mechanical breakdowns: All things mechanical, from cars, dishwashers, refrigerators, trash compactors, and lawn mowers to pool pumps, garage door openers, and power tools need maintenance. That costs money, even if you do the work yourself. Replacing big-ticket items is expensive and most people don’t have tens of thousands in cash for a new car, let alone a few hundred dollars for a good lawn mower. Although many household items go on sale throughout the year, breakdowns can happen at any time … requiring you to find a new fridge NOW regardless of the cost. Non-mechanized things break, too: things like a leaky roof, rusty gutters, or frozen pipes require expert and expensive attention. An emergency fund finds help and fixes small problems before they become bigger issues.
Sudden or unplanned out-of-town expense: There are few inexpensive ways to handle the best friend’s big wedding invitation (always a very long trip to a “fabulous” destination), a sick family member, a funeral, or school graduation. It’s not just the travel to get there: you stay in a hotel, eat in restaurants, give gifts, need clothes, and find transportation during the visit. An emergency fund means saying “Yes, I’m there for you when you need me” instead of “Sorry, money’s tight and I can’t afford the trip.”
Natural or man-made disasters: From fires in northern California, hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, life provides no assurance against disasters. An emergency fund cannot stop a fire as it consumes your home, the flooding of a neighborhood, or an injury from violent assault, but it provides immediate assistance with food, lodging, communication device replacement, transportation, and payment of medical deductibles.
Marine Federal Credit Union offers a full range of services and tools for members to reach the goal of a safe, secure, and stable financial future.