This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Your Quick Guide to Emergency Funds

The following is a transcript of "Money Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life," a podcast from QuickAndDirtyTips.com. The audio program is available via RSS feed here and at TheStreet.com's podcast home page.

Hello and welcome to Money Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life.

Today's topic: How much of an emergency fund do you need?

A listener named Nick emailed me with this question about building an emergency fund:

I've often heard that, as a rule of thumb, you should have enough money in savings to live for three months. I don't have this now. Does it make sense for me to spend a few months building up my savings account while making minimum payments on debt, so that I have some reserves?
Thanks for the question, Nick.

So how much of an emergency fund does a person need and should you save up an emergency fund before paying off debt?

Everyone Needs an Emergency Fund

If you don't already have one, start saving for one today. Not tomorrow. Today. Unexpected things can happen that may mean having to go without your income for awhile. You'll have peace of mind if you're prepared to weather a period without your usual income.

Financial planners typically recommend creating an emergency fund equal to three to six months of living expenses. How much of an emergency fund you need depends on your specific situation.

If you work in a thriving field where jobs are plentiful and easy to come by, you may feel comfortable with just three months of living expenses as your emergency fund. But if jobs in your field are few and far between, you might want a bigger emergency fund that you could tap into for, say, a year, if you were ever to find yourself out of a job.

To figure out your emergency fund amount, add up your living expenses for a typical month. Then multiply that number by the number of months worth of emergency fund you'd like to have. That's the amount you'll want to save up.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,912.11 -70.48 -0.42%
S&P 500 1,969.95 -8.96 -0.45%
NASDAQ 4,442.6980 -2.2110 -0.05%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs