Everything You Need to Know About Starting & Maintaining Your Emergency Fund in 2021

The global pandemic has given us clear indicators how unnerving and soul destroying it can be to lose your job or primary source of income suddenly with no recourse to savings. All of a sudden, minor inconveniences like cracking open your phone or house repairs, take on epic proportions and even minor economic crises seem insurmountable without a reasonable cushion in place. So how should you save in this ‘ rainy day’ account, how much do you need and when is it okay to spend it?

Saving In Your Emergency Fund: How Much is Too Much? Or Too Little?

Conventional wisdom states that you should have three to six months worth of your income in your emergency fund.

This is understandably difficult for most, especially if you’re a freelancer and your income is a bit erratic. However, we think it’s easier to think of it as a percentage of your income – start with 10% of every single. thing. that comes in . Discipline is a muscle and it needs to be built gradually. Depending on your own level of comfortability and personal discipline, you can build the fund based on what is likely to give you the most peace of mind.

For example, a freelancer who lives at home and pays little to no rent or utilities will probably have a higher threshold of certainty than a single parent with responsibility for school fees, child care and utilities; so the latter is likely to need a bigger emergency fund than the former.

If you’re in a DINK situation (DINK= Double Income No Kids), there is more stability with two incomes and no dependents so you can aim for three months.

Let’s be clear, if you still don’t feel secure – save more. These are just guidelines on where to start and what to aim for. (However don’t keep all your money in cash, more on this later). Personally I think 6 months is the bare minimum, especially in light of the wildness of the last 18 months! And if you’re an entrepreneur nine months to a year is probably safer, because of the inherent riskiness of the #HustleLife.Once you’ve established what that number is, these are your next stepsPay any high interest rate debt you have before you start. If you don;t have any debt good for you!Make a realistic spending plan. Cut out unnecessary things but be practical. Creating unrealistic goals will only work against you in the long run.

Build in mini treats for yourself if need be, being financially responsible doesn’t mean it has to be all austerity all the time.Set small goals that help build up to the big number. Start with 10% of everything that comes in, then you can move on to saving N25,000 a month, then 2 months expenses and so far.

Where to Save Your Emergency Fund

Your emergency fund has to be in cash. This is key because obviously emergencies usually indicate a level of time pressure.

There’s nothing worse than having the money but being unable to get to it. If you live in a country where the government can insure those funds, even better. Otherwise choose an account or instrument where you can get liquid quickly, but make sure its still a little difficult to get to so you can resist the urge to spend indiscriminately or on non-emergencies.

SMA Finds: A 30 Day Fixed Deposit like this one from First Bank Nigeria or a regular savings account with higher interest rates

What Qualifies As an Emergency?

Guys, this may seem like a no brainer but seriously it has to be an actual emergency. A killer sale or holiday deal ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT count. Unexpected but crucial payments that have to be made, eg a generator break down or your roof suddenly sprouting a leak. Losing your job. Unexpected health expenses. Crucial travel and accommodation for a family emergency. For non essential emergencies you can totally save for it eg a holiday or splurge fund.

SMA Finds: Platforms like CowrywiseFBN Edge, Reach , PiggyvestWealth.ng and ALAT all have varying options that can fit your individual needs.


In summary- stashing 3 to 6 months of your salary or 9 months to a year of your earnings if you’re an entrepreneur, in cash is the financial equivalent to a safety buffer and are crucial the first steps on your journey to financial freedom

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