19 November 2012

Finances: An alternative emergency fund

You won't hear me talking about gold or silver on here. You can't eat gold, I couldn't afford any anyhow, and I personally don't think the people who are hoarding it will get as much spending power out of it as they think they will.

Let's talk instead about preparing your family for the smaller financial crises. One of the biggest concerns I had about leaving the workforce was that we'd be down to just one paycheck. What if my DH lost his job, or got injured, or we had a large unexpected expense come up?

So I crunched numbers. The first thing I did, and this isn't for everyone, is cash out my retirement account. Hey, they're talking about "redistributing the wealth" in them anyhow. We used the money to pay off his car, some outstanding student loans, get a new roof (it needed doing) and -this is the important part- pay all our monthly bills at least a month in advance. I've kept up with that little cushion since, and added to it where possible.

Think about it- in the event of an emergency, we could skip paying bills for at least a month. If we ate entirely out of our food storage, to eliminate the grocery bill, we wouldn't have to spend money on much of anything. A month would give one or both of us time to secure another job if need be.

Not having to stress when his paycheck doesn't line up with the due date of our bills has also given us both some peace of mind, and some flexibility in our budget. Emergency room bill? No problem. Car needs new tires? No problem. Our finances are still a balancing act, but it's one with a good safety net.