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2009 2nd Edition (Other Editions)


An emergency fund is needed to meet unexpected expenses that are not planned for in the family budget, such as short-term illness causing a loss of income, unexpected medical expenses, property losses that purposely are not covered by insurance (deductibles and co-insurance) and to provide a financial cushion against such personal problems as prolonged unemployment or some other financial crisis.

Need for an emergency fund has received greater attention in recent years. Many capable people have lost their jobs because of mergers and acquisitions, economic dislocations or plant closings. A reasonable emergency fund can help to prevent a temporary unemployment from becoming a financial crisis. The fund will give the family time to adjust without having to drastically change its living standards or disturb other investments.

The size of the needed emergency fund varies greatly. It depends upon such factors as family income, number of income earners, stability of employment, assets and debts. The size of insurance deductibles, health and property insurance exposures and the family's general attitudes toward risk and security are also important. The size of the emergency fund can be expressed as so many months of family income. As a guideline, it is advisable to reserve a minimum of two and a maximum of six months of income. The larger the percentage of your monthly expenses that are fixed and must be paid, the larger should be the emergency fund.

By its very nature, the emergency fund should be invested conservatively. There should be almost complete security of principal, marketability and liquidity. Within these investment constraints, the fund should be invested so as to secure a reasonable yield, given the primary investment objective of safety of principal. Logical investment outlets for the emergency fund would include:

Access to emergency funds is important. The careful person may also want to have some ready cash available for emergencies, even if it is non-interest earning.