Home > Personal Finance > Hate Your Job? Your Best Friend Is an Emergency Fund

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Are you happy with your job, or are you comfortable with your job? Are you unhappy or uncomfortable enough to change jobs to find greener pastures? Would you change jobs if the barriers to do so weren’t so high?

If you had enough money to maintain the same quality of life for the next three to six months, would you tell your boss what you think, even trumpet your resignation with a creative YouTube video? This is one of the many benefits of an emergency savings account.

Take This Job

Some people put up with a lot to maintain employment-homeostasis. I once had a boss who was as unhinged as she was angry. She didn’t disagree with you, she “violently disagreed” with you. She publicly tore subordinates down so often one could only assume she relished it. One of her colleagues confided in me, “She’s difficult.” That was an understatement – she was impossible.

In hindsight, I wonder how much of her “passion” I would have tolerated if my romantically domesticated and I had more cash in our emergency savings account. I’m not a quitter, as evidenced by the many summers I spent in left field “playing tee-ball.” I know there are disagreements and personality conflicts that don’t warrant resignation. There are times, though, when you must walk away and I wonder if I would’ve given my boss the good ol’ Johnny Paycheck, if we had been better off financially.

Boldness & Benefaction

If you aren’t at the mercy of someone or something else, you’re empowered. If you can support yourself and your family for three to six months sans concern, you don’t have to stress about losing a job on your own or someone else’s accord. With this financial security, you can weather whatever comes your way and decide when it’s time to go your own way (cue Lindsay Buckingham).

This employment-autonomy is just one way an emergency savings account makes you bolder. There are numerous others. These include.

  • Reduced stress (and the improved health that follows)
  • Decreased healthcare cost concerns
  • The ability to maintain homeownership responsibilities
  • Preparation for unexpected auto expenses
  • The opportunity to support friends and family in dire circumstances
  • The ability to maintain a good credit score by not missing loan payments if something goes awry. (You can see your free credit scores each month on Credit.com.)

A Turkey Day Tale

A week before Thanksgiving one year, our refrigerator died. It went as dead as Jacob Marley without warning. As per Murphy’s Law, we were hosting Thanksgiving for six. For a few days, our outside balcony was our make-shift fridge and freezer, but somehow the ice cream didn’t survive. (God rest its soul.)

We were lucky. We had money to buy a new refrigerator as soon as we found one we liked. A situation that could’ve been an emergency was merely an inconvenience and an applicable tale.

How to Jumpstart Your Fund

The relief in knowing you can cover three to six mortgage and car payments regardless of what life throws your way can’t be overstated, unlike my former boss’s personality. Saving even three months’ worth of living expenses is tough. Here’s our three-step plan to make it easier.

  • Start small. You may want to aim to save $1,000 as fast as possible. Once you have $1,000, you can put yourself on a reasonable plan to save the rest of what you need to cover three months’ worth of living expenses over a couple of years. Regular contributions, extra money, bonuses and raises should go towards this goal.
  • Make it hard. It’s a good idea to put your emergency savings in a hard-to-access bank account. You may want to avoid features that make it easy to draw on the account, such as check writing and debit cards. You may also want to skip automatic bill pay and online access. Instead, simply have your regular contributions direct-deposited into this account.
  • Get tough. You should use this money only for emergencies. Otherwise, forget it exists.

If you follow these steps, you’ll have enough cash to cover three months’ worth of living expenses in no time. You’ll also have the boldness that only financial security provides. And maybe, just maybe you can sing that Johnny Paycheck song!

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Image: David Woolley

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