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How to start a rainy day fund

Be prepared to weather any financial storms.

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No matter how financially disciplined you are or how well you plan, you can’t predict the future, and it’s not always possible to stick to your budget when unexpected expenses happen. A rainy day fund can help make sure those expenses don’t cause long-term financial harm.

What is a rainy day fund?

A rainy day fund is money you set aside to cover the unforeseen expenses that arise when something goes wrong. Unlike emergency funds, which are intended to help with major financial upheavals like unemployment or a natural disaster, a rainy day fund is intended to help with smaller expenses.

Why do I need a rainy day fund?

You need a rainy day fund to protect your financial stability. It’s a safety net to make sure that you don’t end up with missed bills, credit card debt or a payday loan because of an unexpected expense, like:

  • If your car breaks down
  • If you receive an unexpectedly large bill
  • If you need to offer financial assistance to a loved one in the event of a family crisis
  • If you need to buy a last-minute plane ticket

How much should I save?

Start by working up to a $500 fund, and then continue to build from there. You may feel comfortable with a fund of $500, or you may want to work your way up to a few thousand dollars. How much you need will depend on your circumstances. For example, if you have a high health insurance deductible or an older car, you may want to save more.

When setting a savings goal, consider what unexpected expenses you may face, as well as the other people who are dependent on you for financial support, such as spouses, children and elderly relatives.

Where to keep a rainy day fund

Keep your rainy day fund in a savings account that you can easily access. You want to make sure that you can access your money quickly when an unexpected expense pops up.

5 tips to save for a rainy day

How long it’ll take you to save up a sizable fund depends on your finances. But no matter what you can afford, setting aside a bit each month can help you build up a financial safety net.

Bottom line

If you have the foresight and financial discipline to save for a secure financial future, you’ll be able to stay dry and keep your head above water no matter how much it rains. To get started, add a savings plan into your monthly budget and compare savings accounts to find one that’s the right fit.

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