I got a text from a friend the other day. Her and I have bonded over all matters financial, and she is recently back from vacation. Her text said “I love our emergency fund”
Hmmmm….[interest has officially been peaked at this point]
She went on to tell me that her husband had an “oops” with the garage door, and another “oops” in the rental car while they were on vacation. Poor guy, these two things were practically back-to-back. She said her husband was feeling really guilty about the money it was going to cost to fix those things. But what she said next is what really struck me. “I wasn’t mad at him at all for either one. What a relief. Resentment avoided because of a simple emergency fund.”
It got me thinking. How many times do people argue with their spouse/significant other because of an unexpected expense? You hear about it all the time. Money is by and large the #1 issue couples fight about. When something unexpected happens, is the argument really about the expense itself, or does it really stem from the stress over not having money to pay for it?
Mr Nickels and I have very few arguments, but when I think back to the few that we had prior to our financial awakening, most were indeed about unexpected expenses. Several years ago we had an issue that caused our auto insurance to increase by nearly $100 per month. We (thought) we didn’t have a dime to spare at the time (in reality we were just spending all our dimes on housing and cars), and now we had to come up with another $100 in our monthly budget. I got upset, my husband became irritable, and next thing we knew we were in a heated argument over…the auto insurance. Our precarious financial situation was causing discord in our relationship. It wasn’t about why the auto insurance increased, it was that we didn’t have the money to pay for it. Eventually we calmed down enough to look at the situation logically, and without emotion. But the whole argument could have been avoided.
If that same scenario were to occur today, sure it would be irritating, but it wouldn’t throw us into an emotional tailspin like it did a few years ago.
Going back again to my friend who sent me the text, she’s still in her early 20’s, but financially mature beyond her years. She seems to understand my “Live Smart, Save Money, Retire Early” philosophy. I’ll call her my Nickel from another Pickle. (Ok…here’s where I thought I would be clever and come up with a rhyme. That was the first thing that came out, but as I started typing, it became apparent how awkward that sounds.) *crickets*
Getting to my point, she’s figured things out that some people can take a lifetime, if ever, to understand. Things happen. People make mistakes. But knowing they could cover those expenses (and without going into debt!) kept her from feeling resentful or frustrated at her husband. In fact, what she described was RELIEF.
An emergency fund is more than just unused cash sitting in an account, taunting you. It’s a safety net. A psychological security blanket. For those of us that have them, it helps us sleep better at night and keeps financial harmony in our relationships. Emergency Fund = Less Fighting Over Money
Do you have an emergency fund? If you don’t, that’s the first thing you should do when you finish reading this. Sit down and figure out how you can get one started. You may have to get ninja-like on your finances to do it, but $1,000 should be the absolute minimum. Then, if you’ve got debt (yes, that includes auto loans), pay that off next. Then aim for a fully funded emergency account. I suggest $5,000, which should cover most major catastrophes that come your way.
It’s hard to save money. I know that. But by saving even just a little bit, consistently, you’ll soon have a sweet little pile of cash. And unexpected expenses really aren’t unexpected at all. It’s not IF something will happen, but WHEN. That little emergency fund could save you some tears, some stress and possibly even…your relationship.