Stash Your Cash: Developing a Replacement Plan for Emergency Savings
We all hear and respond to the popular advice of stashing away an emergency savings account for those unexpected bumps life throws our way. We tuck away tax returns, bonuses, rebates and any extra bit of cash we can carve out each month. Finally, we reach our magical goal of having a few months’ or years’ worth of cash. Then, many of us kick back, start spending, and think we’re fine. Or are we?
When the unexpected happens and we need to dip into our hard-earned savings account, how will that money be put back? Without a replacement plan, our emergency savings account can represent a false sense of security. How can we make sure these funds have a safety net?
In our house, we consider a certain amount of our monthly income to be a budget line item scheduled for savings. Even after our goal is reached, we still consider that amount of money to be ultimately ear-marked for savings. Sometimes, we continue to add to our basic emergency fund. Sometimes, we set it aside to start accumulating for a larger item such as a car, trip, home appliance, etc. Some months, we just have fun with it or use it to handle a smaller emergency, which prevents actually having to dip into our contingency fund at all.
When the time comes where we do have to access emergency savings, we know exactly where the money is going to come from to replace it. Anything else we might have been using that line item amount for comes to a screeching halt until our emergency account is topped off again.
Can this take a while? When the price of a particular emergency is large, yes. But replacing the emergency money is necessary if we don’t every single crisis to have the capacity to send us back to square one. Some tips to speed up the process? Scour the budget for any areas extra money can come from such as groceries, long distance calls, gas, clothing, gifts, etc. Set aside the original line item amount without question. Then, save as much extra as possible each month to increase the total. In this manner, even a larger “bump in the road” can be dealt with in a reasonable amount of time.
What’s your replacement plan for emergency savings? I’d love to hear it.