I put my first $25 deposit towards my emergency fund last week. It’s not the first emergency fund I’ve built, but everything I had was wiped through at the end of 2016, and I’ve never made a concentrated effort to build it back up.
I’ve used my emergency fund in the past to cover things like car repairs or unexpected doctor’s visits. This time around, I’ve been thinking about my family more. As a single dude, an emergency fund was nice to have. I certainly suffered when I didn’t have one. But it never felt 100% vital the way it does now that I have a family to think about.
Here’s 11 reasons why your kids need you to have an emergency fund.
Why Your Kids Need You To Have An Emergency Fund
Because Kids Are Dangerous
Kids get sick and kids get hurt. It’s just something they do. Your son pulls a dumb teenager moment and decides to parkour off the garage, faceplanting into the driveway. It’s 3 a.m. and your toddler’s fever just won’t go down. Your kid is playing at the neighbor’s house and falls off the trampoline. You’re going to have unexpected healthcare costs when you have kids around. Even if you have good health insurance, copays and out-of-pocket deductibles can put a cramp in your pocketbook.
A healthy emergency fund lets you handle those expenses without worrying about where to find the money, so you can focus on taking care of your kid and getting them well again.
So You Can Put Food On The Table
You come home one day and your spouse tells you their company is downsizing. A tornado tears through your town and destroys the store you work at. You have to have back surgery that puts you out of work for six weeks.
It might not even be a major interruption in income — the payroll office could screw something and delay your check by a week right when the mortgage is due.
Your emergency fund is the thing that lets you keep life as stable as possible for your family until you’re able to get back to work and restore your interrupted income. It means the lights stay on, the car still has gas in the tank, and you don’t go hungry because you gave your kids the only food in the house.
Because Kids Are Bad At Deadlines
Remember school trips when you were a kid? Not the little fieldtrips where you road the bus and were back before school was out. The big ones, where only a handful of students from the drama club got to go to New York and see a show on Broadway? The expensive ones?
Kids suck at telling their parents about the deadlines for those things. When your son needs $200 for a trip to the International Robotics Convention the next state over, and Oh, by the way, Dad, it’s due in the morning, you’ll be glad you have your emergency fund.
So They Don’t Have To See You Stress About Money
Kids are perceptive creatures. Even when you try to shield them from the harsher realities of the world, they can tell.
When the fridge breaks down and needs replacing, do you want your kids to see you wringing your hands and pulling out your hair over how you’re going to afford a replacement? Or do you want to be able to shrug your shoulders, pull from your emergency fund to cover it, and say “Oh well, no big deal.”
Because The Next One Is Just Around The Corner
Unless you’ve opted for a permanent answer to the whole fertility thing, your next child might be waiting to spring into conception at any minute. The condom fails, she forgets the birth control on a long trip, or maybe you’re just hoping for another but now’s not quite the right time.
I was a surprise baby. When we were watching a news report where some celebrity named her daughter Weatherly “because that’s where she was conceived,” my mother proudly told me, “Hell, if we’d done that to you, your name would be Econo-lodge.”
New baby means more expenses — more doctor’s visits, new baby stuff (no matter how many hand-me-downs you’ve got), and other costs. Unless your income has grown to match your growing family, you may need to dip into your emergency fund to cover the costs.
To Save The Family Pet
Animals get sick and hurt, too. When your child is absolutely head-over-heels in love with a pet and that pet gets sick or needs surgery, you want to be able to spare your child the emotional turmoil of losing a beloved friend.
We don’t usually take out insurance on our pets, so having an emergency fund gives you the money you need to get Fido back on his feet.
To Keep Their Bedroom Dry
Repairs are just a fact of life when you own a home. Whether it’s just from wear and tear or the result of storm damage, the last thing you want is a big leaky hole right over your kid’s bed. The same goes for other major home systems like when the AC fails in the middle of a summer heat wave.
Your emergency fund lets you patch the roof without going into major debt — or at least softening the blow.
To Care For Others
When Aunt Julie’s marriage fails and she and your two nephews need to crash in your living room for a few weeks, or grandma has surgery and needs to be with family while she recovers, your emergency fund lets you bear the added expense of having more people in the house.
More people under the roof means higher grocery bills, higher utility bills, and other costs. A healthy emergency fund means you can care for the extended family while keeping your own from going into the red.
Because Some People Are Horrible
You come home one day and find that a burglar has broken in and trashed your house. Or you wake up one day to thousands of dollars of charges on your credit card because a shady waiter at Joe’s Oyster Shack and Laundry Emporium stole your details. The homeowners insurance or the bank will sort it out, but that’s gonna take a police report and a few weeks of processing, and in the meantime, you’ve got to figure out what to do.
You hope it never happens, but if it does, your emergency fund gives you the cash you need to operate until life returns to normal.
To Bury Them
No one wants to think about this. It turns my stomach even writing it, but if the absolute worst should happen and tragedy should strike your family, your emergency fund can cover some or all of the costs of laying your child to rest. Funerals can cost $3000-10000 or more.
Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you do, your emergency fund will be there so you can focus on the important things without adding money worries to the mix.
To Teach Your Kids The Value Of Preparedness
My folks didn’t have an emergency fund when I was a kid. After some disaster or another, my mother — a stay-at-home mom — went to work as a receptionist at a local gym. It wasn’t a great move. The work made her unhappy, and she worried constantly about my disabled sister, who required a lot of care. As soon as the family finances were better, she left the job and returned to full-time caregiving.
When I was a teenager, my parents got smart about their finances, and I saw a huge shift in them. They weren’t stressed, even when the car broke down. My dad would just laugh it off, go down to the credit union, and pull from the emergency fund to cover the repairs.
It taught me a valuable lesson: an emergency fund transforms an emergency from a crisis to a nuisance.
How To Build Your Emergency Fund
Building an emergency fund is simple. Whenever you get some money, put a little away. You want it accessible, but not somewhere you’ll be tempted to spend it. Here’s some quick and dirty tips:
- Aim for $100 at first, then $500. Then aim for three months of living expenses.
- Don’t dip into your emergency fund for bargain deals or for things you should be budgeting for like standard utility bills.
- Keep a small amount of your emergency in cash so you can access it if you can’t get to the bank.
- $20 a week for a year gives you a starter emergency fund of $1040
More about emergency funds
Here’s a few articles from the Internet so you can read more about emergency funds:
Do you have an emergency fund?
What about you? Does your family have an emergency fund? If not, why not? If so, what are some things you’ve used it for?