How much should I save for emergencies?

 A man checks his finances in front of his laptop at his kitchen table, and takes notes in a logbook.

Budgeting, saving and investing can help keep your financial goals on track, but life often brings unexpected events that can be costly and easily derail these goals. That’s why it’s important to save some cash for a “rainy day” in an emergency fund.

An emergency fund can prepare you financially and emotionally for the unexpected, giving you more confidence and flexibility to accomplish your goals.

What is an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is a pool of money used to pay for unexpected but necessary expenses, or to cover essential expenses after a temporary loss of income. Should an emergency happen, you’ll be able to use this money to cover your losses without derailing your financial goals.

For example, an emergency fund can help you save and prepare for:

  • A job loss or early retirement
  • Housing or auto repairs
  • Medical bills
  • Unexpected travel

How much emergency savings should I have?

For most people, maintaining three to six months of total expenses in emergency savings is appropriate. The specific amount to target depends on:

  • Your risk of unexpected expenses. For instance, do you have a home or car that might be due for hefty repairs? Do you live in an area prone to natural disasters? Do you have dependents to support?
  • If you work, your risk of a temporary loss of income. Take into account if you're part of a single- or dual-income household, work in an industry with high turnover, or have a profession with unstable income (like a gig or seasonal job).
  • How much you value being confident that you can weather financial emergencies.

The greater your risks and the more confidence you want, the more money you should save for emergencies. That could mean maintaining more than six months in your emergency fund. A financial advisor can help you assess your specific situation to help determine where within the range, or even above it, you should be.

Strategies to build emergency savings

If you’re wondering how to start an emergency fund or save more money in the one you have, here are a few actions you can consider:

  • If you’re working, set up a direct deposit, so part of your paycheck goes directly into your emergency fund.
  • Save a portion of (or all) extra income, such as bonuses and tax refunds.
  • Find ways to save in your budget. For example, cancel subscriptions you don’t use or shop around to lower insurance costs. You can also be strategic with large, planned purchases by taking advantage of discounts and promotions
  • Save a portion of any amount budgeted but not spent. For instance, if your medical or home maintenance expenses were lower than anticipated, save the extra money.

How we can help you

As you can see, your emergency fund need is as individual as you are. Your Edward Jones financial advisor can help you answer questions like these:

  • How much should I save in my emergency fund?
  • How do I work toward this goal?
  • What if I have debt or need to save for retirement? How should I prioritize these goals?