The Emergency Fund: Why, How Much, & Where
Part of Oak Street Advisors’ 10 Financial Commandments for Millennials series, determining the correct amount, picking a high-yield account, and saving for an Emergency Fund is critical in establishing a solid financial foundation for millennial investors.
Before you start investing, you still need to complete one other, vital, step; and that’s saving enough for a properly funded emergency fund. An emergency fund is a savings account dedicated to bailing you out when unforeseen financial troubles arise. This fund is for repairing your HVAC unit, fixing your car, unexpected medical bills, and loss of wages.
Your emergency fund shouldn’t be so small that you aren’t able to cover a financial crisis without going into debt; but not so large that you have too much capital allocated in cash.
General savings guidelines call for 3 months of expenses for two incomes, 6 months of expenses with one income- for both single and married investors. This is a baseline, but your Emergency Fund should be dictated by your individual circumstances. You and your financial planner should collaborate to determine the amount that is right for you. Or, you can head back over to our Personal Budget Template to calculate a personal number.
Once the proper amount is determined, your emergency fund should be moved into a high yield savings account. Most of us keep our savings at a big bank and receive terrible interest rates for parking our money there. While it may not seem like a lot of extra money, going from an account producing 0.01% interest vs. 2.0% interest just makes sense. Why not let your money earn the most it can for you?
For example, say you have $10,000 in your Emergency Fund:
Bank A Bank B
Interest Rate 0.01% 2.0%
Amount You Earn/Year $10 $200