You need an emergency fund, especially in tough times like these, but exactly how much should go into that fund? For his part, financial guru and best-selling author Dave Ramsey says he recommends 3-6 months of spending in your emergency fund. (Good news on that front: many savings accounts pay more now than they have in a decade; you can find some of the best savings account rates here.)
Ramsey offers this advice to help you figure out what those 3-6 month expenses mean for you personally: “The easiest way to figure this out is to ask yourself: If I were out of work, how much money would I need to get me through three to six months? Think about things like the necessary, regular expenses you have (food, housing, utilities, transportation, etc.) and not the $400 you’d like to spend on a free-for-all shopping spree — that doesn’t count.”
How much do other professionals say you need in savings?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but six months of cash on hand is a good starting point, many professionals say. But there is much more nuance than that. First, “the recommended size of an emergency fund varies by household,” says Paul Collinson, a certified financial planner at Legacy Planning Advisors.
“If they have a spouse who works in a separate industry, they might not have to have six months and they might be wrong for three months. “If you’re single or the primary breadwinner, then you’ll want to lean in for six months,” says certified financial advisor Jeanne Sutton. Adds Collinson: “Households relying on self-employment income should have 6-9 months of reserves.”
You can find some of the best savings account rates here.
The workplace can also make a difference. “Public sector employees can usually bank sick days and get their cash value in retirement [up to 180 days for teachers in New York State]. This can also replace an income that is temporarily interrupted,” says certified financial planner Anthony Ogorek of Ogorek Wealth Management.
It’s also about your risk tolerance: “Consider your unique ability, willingness and need to take on risk when determining whether it’s right to have more or less in an emergency fund,” says certified financial planner Elliot Dole of Buckingham Strategic Wealth.
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