Save For Your Future

By Darren Cason

Financial experts agree that a family's emergency fund should be large enough to pay their expenses for three to six month's worth of living. This means enough money to pay your monthly budget for up to six months. Seems like a lot, and it can be if you have no savings at all, but it's not impossible to save this amount. The first thing you'll need to know is how large your "Rainy Day Fund" needs to be.

So the first step is to figure your monthly expenses: mortgage payment, car payments, insurance, household expense, groceries, and so forth. Include everything. Don't forget your monthly bills like cable television and electric. For the average household in America, this totals to about $3,400.00 per month. Once you know what your number is, you can times it by three and by six to get your three and six month goals. So if yours is the average, three months is $10,200 and six months is $20,400. Big numbers, but you'll see how they can become workable.

What is this emergency fund for and why are you supposed to have it? That's a good question and one that should be answered because it's your incentive for working towards having your six month's of funds available. We live in an uncertain world with uncertain times and economies. You never know if you're going to lose your job tomorrow, need a new roof on your house, or have a disaster happen. Emergencies have a way of showing up when it's most inconvenient. That is what your emergency fund is for.

If you're saving for retirement, then (in a way) you're putting away an emergency fund. Your emergency fund can be as easy to set up and build as your retirement fund is. All you need to do is think about your goal and figure out how you're going to attain it. You'll soon see that saving three or six month's worth of expense money is chump change compared to your fifteen or more years of retirement funds.

So approach the emergency fund like you would any financial goal: think ahead and plan right now. You've already figured out your monthly expenses, so now you need to look at an overall monthly budget. How much do you make in a month and what is the difference between that and your expenses? Most people consume about 65% of their incomes in just housing, food, and transportation. That means you've got about 35% of your income to work with: income that is "discretionary."

Now you have your goals and an idea how you're going to get there. Obviously, that whole 35% number isn't available, but it's your starting point. Consider your savings plan over a 2, 3, and 5 year period and see if you can achieve your three month's emergency savings inside 3 years. Working with our $3,400/month number from before, you'll see that this is only $340.00 per month for two and a half years. That's 10% of your income.

Now for the fun. Over time, you can increase what you're putting into savings by changing some of your lifestyle habits in the long run. For instance, when it comes time to buy a new car, opt for one that's less expensive to purchase or to operate (or both). Find out if refinancing your home mortgage or a debt consolidation procedure would save you money over time. Consider donating time, money, or items to charities to increase your tax savings. And if you are using more than one credit card, check if a balance transfer option would work for you. These are just some of the ways you can increase your savings over time.

If you keep your goal in mind, set up the payments to the emergency fund in the same way you do all other bills, and then work towards your goal diligently, you can have a six month emergency savings before you know it.

Join Darren Cason at The more you know the better decisions you can make, like the topic of balance transfer debt consolidation.

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