Though born into slavery Biddy Mason gained freedom for herself and her children in 1856. Only ten years later she had saved enough money to purchase property, making her the first African American women to own land in Los Angeles. A nurse and midwife by profession, she helped found the first elementary school for African American children in Los Angeles.
Even as we grew up in our own family unit we all noted our mums were stingier than our dads when it came to flaunting us with present or we thought so. I would see my mum complain all the time how she does not have cash to purchase stuff in the household and Dad seemed to have float all the time. You know your mum has money because you accidentally saw her bank statement or saw her tuck away a few notes in her hand bag or like my grandmother would tie her money in an old Kanga and hide it away. Such cash would only resurface in secrecy to buy necessity for the house hold or later in life my mum always says it’s a loan she borrowed from her chamma (self-help group).
A woman should learn how to save herself money by performing basic but essential maintenance tasks on her own. (I call it empowering thyself) like how to change a tire, recharge a flat battery, check the oil, and assess tire pressure; what to do when a car breaks down or when an accident occurs; how to buy a car without being taken advantage of; and more. It’s also the perfect time to get in a good place financially. One important part of being in a good place financially is having an emergency fund in place. While experts have different opinions as to how much you should have in an emergency fund, almost all agree that some emergency fund is necessary. A woman shall have a little money of her own.
An emergency fund by definition is a bank account set aside for use in the event of an emergency. It is a “rainy day fund” used for unexpected life events such as a home repair, job loss, medical costs, car repair, or unplanned pregnancy. It is not an account you use for non-emergency things, like upgrading your current car or paying for braces.
Having an emergency fund will give you a cushion in the event that something happens that you are not financially prepared for. Not only will you feel better with an emergency fund, you will avoid going into debt when something happens that you weren’t planning on (and it will). The best part about having an emergency fund is that when something unexpected happens, you will still be frustrated, but you won’t be scared because you have money for it. Your emergency fund gives you security.
Having your own money means that you are standing on a strong financial foundation. When you have your own emergency fund, you can make your own choices without considering another person’s money. You have power over your life when you have your own money. Even if you are happily married, it is so important to be an active participant in your family’s finances.
If you are single, having an emergency fund for yourself is a no brainer. Additionally, if you are married, it is a no brainer to have a joint emergency fund with your husband. What may not be so obvious is why you should have your own emergency fund if you are married. I figure even if you are married an emergency fund would offer a last resort in case all other emergency backup are unavailable or have run out. I remember one time when we were dating, my husband and I went for a long vacation and when we came back home we could not access cash through the Atms slots since we had exhausted all our checking accounts. As we sat there scratching our heads I remembered I had set aside some cash in my back pocket and I took it out to buy dinner, my husband was impressed with the tactic. In short emergency funds are not necessary evil secret in marriage if the intentions are good willed.
Note that a separate emergency fund does not mean hidden. Complete transparency when it comes to finances is incredibly important. That said, only you know your situation and whether you need to save secretly for other reasons. But all things being happy and healthy, honesty in a relationship means financial transparency.
Your own emergency fund does not necessarily have to be a fully funded emergency fund, but it should be enough that you feel safe. Maybe you have a family emergency fund that is six months of expenses saved and your own with two to three months of expenses saved, for example.If you have any interest in planning for your financial future or in being on a good financial foundation, you have a responsibility to have an emergency fund. If you have any expenses at all, if you own a home, if you own a car, or if you are a human being who could get sick (which you are if you are reading this), you absolutely need an emergency fund. Without it, you are betting that life won’t throw anything difficult your way, which is a very dangerous risk to take.
Most financial experts recommend that your emergency be highly liquid. Usually, this means in a savings or checking account (where you can access it quickly and easily). Essentially, you’re just saving a bunch of cash in the bank. While the money in your emergency fund is not going to earn and grow like it would if it were invested, that is okay. The point of your emergency fund is not to build wealth; the point is to have money that is easily accessible in the event of a rainy day.
Note: An emergency fund is not a line of credit you have open or a credit card with a high limit. In case of an emergency, you should use the money you have saved in the bank – not a credit card that gets you into debt)
Financial experts vary in terms of what they recommend in an emergency fund. For example, Dave Ramsey recommends having between three and six months of expenses saved. Suze Orman recommends having at least eight months of expenses saved.For example, let’s say you make $4,000 per month and your expenses are $2,500 per month. A fully funded emergency fund for you would be $2,500 x 6 months = $15,000. You would not use the $4,000 income number in the equation.Factors that can help you determine how much you should save include: 1) the security of your job, 2) the number of income streams in your household, 3) your personal family needs, and 4) what makes your feel secure. How much you need in your emergency fund is a personal choice that you need to make based on your specific situation.
For example, if you have multiple income streams that are very secure, you may find three months is enough. Alternatively, if your job / business is not very predictable and it is your only income stream, you may want to save eight months to one year of expenses in your emergency fund.
If you want to start saving for an emergency fund, first figure out how much you need to save. Do this by multiplying your expenses by however many months you want to save for and then create a plan to save that amount. The easiest way to do this is to create a budget Plan where every penny goes, including how much you can save every month. Consider taking a second job or side hustle to make money for your emergency fund if you don’t already have room in your current budget. You may find it helpful to set up direct deposit into an emergency fund. Create a plan that works for you and helps you achieve your financial goals.
Whatever you do, remember that emergencies happen to all of us. Not being financially ready for a rainy day is no one else’s fault but your own. Let today be the day that you take control of your financial life and get a solid financial cushion underneath you.