In a recent comment, Grant from the Corner Office Blog wisely pointed out that while its great that I’m eliminating debt so aggressively, I should probably be accumulating more of an emergency savings cushion, you know, just in case…
I agree and I disagree at the same time.
A lot of people in personal finance circles hem and haw about establishing an “emergency fund” (EF) containing 6 months worth of expenses. That’s probably good advice.
Obviously, I don’t have that (current savings is $575) nor do I really strive for it. Six months, while nice, is overkill in my book.
My pseudo-EF has always been just keeping at least $1000 in my checking account at all times.
Combined with the modest amount I have invested as I-Bonds, this would be enough to pay the next mortgage bill — which it seems to me is the most common worry when an emergency comes up.
I’m also routinely ahead by a month on all of my non-utility bills. Next bill due date is always a minimum of 3 paychecks down the road — so in my own “imaginary” sort of way, I actually do have an EF.
I may not have the money on hand right now, but I also don’t have to send it out right now either. I’ve got around two months leeway.
Some will say, “What if you lose your income?”
Well, based on what I’ve already said, I’d have a few months to coast before the big bills came due.
I’d also like to think that that would enough time for me to be able to find a decent new income or more time to allow me to add new paying clients to my side business to cover my expenses.
If not, I’d likely end up using my credit cards to cover my expenses. You see, credit is my other EF. I have a zero balance right now, but in excess of $100k in available credit. Many will disagree, but as a last resort, and in a real emergency, that’s a pretty powerful thing to have in your back pocket.
On a side note, and something I should probably reveal anyway, in a pinch, my wife’s income is enough to pay all of our bills in the short term. It would require a bit of a lifestyle change, but it would definitely be possible for us to get by — and that’s just another (and the best) financial safety net going for me.