Nearly a quarter of savers who take the America Saves pledge chose “emergency savings” as their first wealth-building goal. And they have the right idea. Research shows that low-income families with at least $500 in an emergency fund were better off financially than moderate-income families with less than this amount. Yet most Americans don’t have enough savings to cover an unexpected emergency.
What is an emergency savings fund?
An emergency savings fund consists of at least $500, usually in a savings account that you do not have easy access to. Saving for this fund starts with small, regularly scheduled automatic contributions that build up over time.
Why should you start saving for emergencies?
Maintaining an emergency savings account may be the most important difference between those who manage to stay afloat and those who sink in debt. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that you can afford to pay unexpected expenses. That’s because keeping $500 to $1,000 of savings for emergencies can allow you to easily meet unexpected financial challenges such as repairing the brakes on your car or replacing a broken window in your house.
Not having emergency savings is one of the reasons many individuals borrow too much money, resort to high-cost loans, or increase their credit card balances to high levels.
How should you build your emergency savings?
The easiest and most effective way to save is automatically. This is how millions of Americans save. Your bank or credit union can help you set up automatic savings by transferring a fixed amount from your checking account to a savings account. Learn more about saving automatically.
Where should you keep your emergency savings?
It’s usually best to keep emergency savings in a bank or credit union savings account. These types of accounts offer easier access to your money than certificates of deposit, U.S. Savings Bonds, or mutual funds. Though these are useful tools for long-term saving, they are not ideal for an emergency fund that you may need access to more quickly. But not too quickly! Keeping your money in a savings account makes it much less likely that you will use these savings to pay for everyday, non-emergency expenses. Out of sight, out of mind. That’s why it is usually a mistake to keep your emergency fund in a checking account.
Your local America Saves campaign can help you find a participating financial institution that offers low- or no-minimum balance savings accounts.
How can you get started?
Those with a savings plan are twice as likely to save successfully. This includes setting a goal to build an emergency fund and deciding how much you want to save each month. This is where we come in. If you’re ready to make a commitment to yourself to save, take the America Saves pledge to save money, build wealth, and reduce debt. We’ll keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your goal to build an emergency fund.
How can you find money to save for emergencies?
There are many places to find money to save. Get started by checking out our resources on how to save money.