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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I used my Emergency Fund. . . .

Yesterday, I took $300 out of my Emergency Fund, and used it to have a stuck drain cleared out. I had been unable to shower or do laundry, and since my own methods (Drane-O) hadn't worked, I called the local plumbing company, and they came out on Memorial Day to do the job.

Although it was worth it (my laundry and I are now clean and fresh-smelling), I couldn't believe how expensive it was! The bill---even with a $30 coupon---came to $289! This is money I didn't have in my checking account, so I was ecstatic that my EF is as healthy as it is.

What would I have done eight months ago? That plumbing bill would have gone directly on my credit card, and I would have ended up paying double because I wouldn't have paid it off right away. Instead, I was able to pay cash! The satisfaction of this is immeasureable.

If you're thinking about starting an Emergency Fund, please do it. Putting even $50 a month away in a separate EF (I use ING savings subaccounts) can help out when those unexpected expenses arise. Need some tips on how to do this without feeling the pinch? Read on!

  • Determine your 'latte factor' (dinners out, fancy coffee, soda from the machine, etc). Control this one aspect of your spending, and send the savings to your Emergency Fund account
  • Treat your savings as a bill; I send my money to separate savings accounts at the beginning of the month, as I'm paying my other bills. I don't even miss it that way!
  • Have you recently paid off a credit card or other regularly occurring bill? Don't let that money slip away! Send that 'payment' to your savings account instead!
  • Round up the amount you spend on your debit card and create a cash 'cushion' in your checking account (i.e. if you spend $1.26, round that up to $2.00 in your register). At the end of the month, send the 'cushion' to savings.
  • Empty your wallet at the end of each day---any change or cash can be put into a savings jar. When it adds up, take it to the bank and have it transferred into savings.
  • If you're saving money on electricity or gas by turning off lights, turning down the water heater thermostat, or not using AC as regularly, send that savings to your Emergency Fund.

Even small amounts in an Emergency Fund can be useful---don't forget about the miracle of compounding interest! I'm going to work on building that $300 back into my EF using some of the strategies found above. I hope you will too!

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