You may have heard of an emergency fund, but have you ever heard of an emergency budget?
The fear of the unknown is very real. When it comes to personal finances, a little unexpected expense can cause a major issue. One small expense can lead to a snowball of high interest debt. An emergency fund can help avoid those issues. An emergency fund will help cover the cost of an unexpected expense. An emergency fund will help you worry less about the unknown and will provide a lot of peace of mind.
An emergency fund isn’t the only thing that can provide peace of mind though.
There are many things that you can do to help you worry less about the unknown and avoid financial problems that naturally come up from time to time.
On top of an emergency fund, one thing you can do is have a high savings rate. Having a high (+20%) savings rate will give you room breathe when something unexpected comes up. Another thing you can do is have more than one income stream. Having income from your job, plus investments, plus rentals/AirBnB, plus side gigs will help increase your financial flexibility.
Lastly, having an emergency budget will help you prepare for the unexpected and provide an enormous amount of peace of mind.
Is it safe to use your HELOC as an emergency fund? A typical emergency fund is between 3 months and 6 months of expenses, but that’s a lot of cash to have lying around!
Cash is the enemy of long-term goals. Holding too much cash makes it more difficult to achieve long-term goals like retirement. The more cash-on-hand there is, the lower the average investment return.
Holding some cash is good. A certain amount of cash-on-hand protects us against unexpected emergencies like a job loss, a disability, a health emergency etc. etc. But holding too much cash is bad.
For homeowners with a certain amount of home equity there is another option. This option allows homeowners to decrease the size of their emergency fund and put more into RRSPs and TFSA sooner. This can provide more investment growth and potentially a reduction in income tax and an increase in government benefits.
Homeowners with a certain amount of home equity could choose a hybrid option, with a smaller amount of cash-on-hand but leaning on a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) for larger emergencies.
But is this hybrid option safe? Is it safe to use your HELOC as an emergency fund? Let’s take a look at why, and why not, to use your HELOC as an emergency fund.
Some surprises are great… but one surprise no one likes an unexpected expense. An unexpected expense can really wreak havoc on your personal finances. Unfortunately, unexpected expenses are extremely common, especially for those who own homes and vehicles.
For those of us who own large depreciating assets like vehicles, homes, boats, RVs etc., planning for unexpected expenses is an important financial habit. We need to prepare for future repairs and upgrades, even if they’re not entirely predictable.
At PlanEasy we call these types of expenses “infrequent expenses”. Unlike your regular monthly bills, infrequent expenses are not regular and are much less predictable. It’s hard to predict both the size and timing of infrequent expenses but they are still expenses that we need to prepare for.
If you own a depreciating asset like a home or vehicle then you can be guaranteed to have some large expenses in the future. To prepare for these expenses you need to set aside a certain amount of money each month, otherwise you’ll feel a nasty cash flow pinch in the future, or in a worst-case scenario, end up in debt. For those with a large home and 1-2 vehicles, setting aside $500 to $1,000+ per month is a pretty common goal. How much are you setting aside for infrequent expenses? Is it enough?
To manage these infrequent expenses, we can use a “fund” or “funds”. A fund is a small pot of money that you contribute to regularly. It’s set aside in a high-interest savings account and waits there ready to help when these types of expenses occur. We don’t like to think of this as savings, and its not an emergency fund, this is future spending that just hasn’t quite happened yet.
Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t have a care in the world? No responsibilities, nothing to worry about, nothing to stress over. Well you can get that feeling again, or close to it, by having an emergency fund.
An emergency fund, or “e-fund”, is amazing! An emergency fund is like a big financial blanket. It helps you stay warm and cozy during a rough financial storm.
You can also think of an emergency fund like a seat belt. Most of the time it’s just there doing nothing… but when an emergency happens your e-fund jumps into action to prevent serious financial harm.
An emergency fund is a pile of money you keep tucked away in a safe place in case of a financial emergency. Your pile of emergency savings should be equivalent to 3-6 months of living expenses, but it can be much smaller to start.
Emergency funds can be smaller if you have high interest debt (which should be a priority), or if you have a strong safety net (ie. parents, friends, relatives that can help provide support or help reduce expenses in an emergency).
Building an emergency fund takes time. It’s something you should contribute to regularly with each paycheck.
Emergencies happen from time to time so your budget should include monthly savings to replenish your e-fund.
To be honest, e-funds are boring. An emergency fund should be invested in a high-interest savings account earning 1-2% interest. This protects the principal but it can also feel very boring. In this case though, boring is good. Boring means that your money will definitely be there when you need it most.
It can be tempting to invest your emergency fund in the stock market…
What would you do in a financial emergency? What steps would you take? Do you have a plan in place?
It turns out that nearly 4 out of 10 people don’t have even a basic plan for a financial emergency. In the latest Financial Planning Canada survey, nearly 40% of respondents said they do not have an emergency fund.
While that stat is pretty alarming, the good news is that 6 out of 10 people are saving for an emergency, but is that the only thing you can do?
Our plan includes multiple layers of protection if we were faced with a major financial emergency. There are four key things that we would do. These four things would allow us to cover basic expenses for 5+ years! How’s that for peace of mind!
This 5-year “safety net“ wasn’t something that we created overnight, but we’re thankful we now have a strong plan just in case the worst were to happen. We hope to never get to that point, but it’s nice knowing we have a solid plan that’s ready to go in case things get really, really tough.
Here are the four things we would do in a financial emergency…
Feeling financially secure has nothing to do with how much money you have or how much money you earn. Feeling financially secure is all about how you feel about your finances, how you manage your finances, and your attitude towards money in general.
Financial insecurity is a very common feeling. It affects both low-income and high-income households, it affects both young and old. In fact, according to the most recent FP Canada survey, at least half of us are affected by financial stress in some way.
“Half (50%) of Canadians say that financial stress has impacted their life in at least one way, with health issues (18%), marriage/relationship problems (15%), distractions and reduced productivity at work (14%), and family disputes (13%) the most common ways stress affects them.” Source.
When talking about financial security, it’s important to differentiate between BEING financially secure and actually FEELING financially secure. It’s possible to BE financially secure but not FEEL that way. It’s possible to be in a great financial position but without the right knowledge, routines and plans, it may not actually feel that way.
In this post we’ve outlined eight things you can do to FEEL financially secure (even if you still have the exact same income, spending, and savings).