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Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight! To learn about retirements, investments and financial planning, check out Invested now.

Can You Handle a Crisis? Survey Says…

By Ashleigh, K-Staff

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Do you have an emergency fund? If you’re like many Americans, the answer is probably no. In fact, more than half of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover three months of expenses, according to a July 2021 Bankrate.com poll. Despite multiple rounds of stimulus assistance from the federal government, just 1 in 6 say they have more emergency savings than before the pandemic started.

Source: Bankrate Emergency Savings Survey; June 22-27, 2021

If you’re like most Americans, building an emergency fund should be a top priority. The good news is there are simple steps you can take today to protect yourself from whatever may come tomorrow.

Why have an emergency fund?

Few of us anticipate having a costly crisis—but they’re so commonplace that it makes sense to be prepared. Do you have the money you would need to cover:

  • A job loss?
  • An unexpected medical expense?
  • A car repair?
  • An emergency home repair?
  • A death in the family?


Nearly all of us face these situations, and credit cards and loans tend to be go-tos. But interest payments make them more expensive choices, and your particular credit situation may not be conducive to relying on these avenues. Having a savings fund ready to go can give you peace of mind during a stressful time.

How much should I save?

A good rule-of-thumb is to save six to nine months’ worth of expenses. Factors including job stability, the ease with which you could find a similar job if you needed to, and family structure (are you the sole income-earner in your household?) all influence whether you should aim for the lower or higher end of that range.

MoneyUnder30.com has a very useful calculator for figuring a good target for your emergency fund.

How do I start saving?

Building a good emergency fund could take some time, but any amount you do save before an emergency allows you to borrow that much less.

  1. Create a budget. Before you can begin to know how much money you can set aside each payment, you’ll need to have a good handle on your income and expenses. If you don’t already have a budget, this is your first step! Kirtland FCU members have access to free budgeting tools through Money Management. Learn more about Money Management and how to get started with your budget at KirtlandFCU.org/Money-Management.
  2. Decide how much you can save each paycheck. A good budget will have expenses categorized into essential expenses (needs) and discretionary spending (wants). Based on your savings goal and how long you want to take to achieve it, decide how much of your discretionary income you can move into savings.
  3. Pay your savings. Once you’ve decided, pay your savings account as a bill. That money is no longer discretionary—it’s essential! Treat your savings as an essential expense like food and rent. Make sure you get it paid! It’s a good idea to have a separate account for your emergency fund. Savings accounts will pay you interest based on the balance each month. Traditional savings accounts usually don’t have large interest rates, but it’ll be more than your money would earn in a checking account. Plus, with a separate account, you’ll be less likely to dip into your savings. Note: Choose a traditional savings account rather than a higher-interest account like a certificate account. Certificate accounts are great for growing your money, but they aren’t easily liquidated (turned into cash), so they aren’t the best choice for an emergency fund.
  4. Track your progress. Seeing your savings account growing is a great way to stay motivated. Keep tabs on your savings as well as your budget.
  5. Add extra money to your savings. Get a bonus at the end of the year or a raise at work? You could use it to pay down a credit card, but you should consider adding it to your savings for a big boost! Most financial experts recommend creating an emergency fund even before further paying down debts. Why? An emergency that requires you to go further into debt or liquidate valuable assets could cause more harm in the long run. So, keep up with your credit card and loan payments, but add extra money to your savings until you reach your emergency fund goals.

An emergency fund is the smartest way to handle financial obstacles. If you do encounter a financial emergency and don’t have the savings to handle it, a low-rate loan or credit card are the next best option. Kirtland FCU has wide variety of savings account, credit card programs, and loan options to help you handle any expense!

can you handle a crisis?

Do you have an emergency fund?