These are unprecedented times, you guys. There’s sad news everywhere you look, so I want to give you some hope today. Let’s talk about one thing that can help your specific situation right now, no matter where you’re at with your finances—an emergency fund.
Emergency funds are made for such a time as this. If you have one, you’re probably thanking your past self for the peace of mind you have because of that pile of cash. As you navigate a loss of hours, income, or even your job, your emergency fund has your back.
I’ve counseled people who were able to overcome impossible odds because of their emergency fund. It’s not just about the money sitting in the bank, it’s about the power an emergency fund gives you in a crisis. It enables you to act—or at least react—without going into a panic or falling into debt. When you have cash saved and the unexpected happens, you have the power to focus on what’s really important, instead of focusing on money.
If you don’t have an emergency fund, now’s the time to start building one. I want you to stash as much cash as you can. If you’ve recently experienced an income decrease or lost your job entirely, you’ll need to take a job—any job—to get your income back up. Around here we call it “gazelle intensity.” To make money fast, you need to have the motivation of a gazelle running from a cheetah!
Now, if you’ve lost your income and you already have an emergency fund, that’s what it’s there for. But before you touch it, drop your expenses down to cover the Four Walls first. The Four Walls are your food, utilities, shelter, and transportation. This is just until we’re all back to normal, and your income is back up to what it was. You’re in conserve mode, so focus on needs—not wants—right now.
If you still have to pull from your emergency fund, treat it like income. Whatever amount you need to move over from savings, enter that onto the income line of your budget. Then, give every dollar a job to do. You’re running a leaner budget than usual right now, and that means there’s no room for date nights or dog costumes.
Remember, your emergency fund is a safety net between you and life. If you need to use it, don’t feel guilty. And if you don’t have one, start taking steps toward building one today.
I still want you to keep track of your budget during this time, too. Even if you don’t have an income, budget whatever money you have. If you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll wonder where it went. EveryDollar is a free budgeting app I love. It’ll help you stay on track during these uncertain times!