What’s in your emergency fund?

May 14, 2020

Learn how to find your starting point for your “in case of emergency” savings.

 

When it comes to money, you have a lot on your plate. There’s ­finding a job that pays, sorting out your bills, creating a budget and saving for the future. Even with all those balls in the air, it's also wise to consider adding a key ­financial tool, if you can: an emergency fund.

 

Why build an emergency fund?

Think about what you can use earmarked funds for: paying a medical expense, losing your job or covering a roommate’s rent if they unexpectedly move out.

Not having enough money saved to cover an emergency can snowball:

  • Unpaid bills could potentially harm your credit 
  • Charging an expense you cannot pay off may lead to costly credit card debt 
  • Redirecting funds to an emergency could negatively impact other financial goals such as planning for an upcoming trip or building your retirement savings

 

How much should I save?

Expert advice suggests saving a range of three months to nine months worth of your total monthly expenses, based on your circumstances.

Consider: Do you have any of the following?

  • Kids
  • Pets
  • Student loan payments
  • Car payments
  • A mortgage
  • Insurance premiums
     

Start with a goal of three months and think about boosting your savings target for each item you check mark. You want to make sure you have enough saved that you can still provide for yourself (and others) and meet obligations.

 

What to do if that seems impossible

Start by:

  • Creating a budget
  • Cutting back on expenses such as dining out and entertainment 
  • Looking for sources of extra income like freelance work
  • Putting away a small portion of your paycheck each month into a savings account. A little can add up a lot!

 

What to do in an emergency

Even if you haven’t hit your savings goal, you can still prepare for emergencies.

If you lose your job:

  • Could you pick up part-time work?
  • Get a roommate?
     

If you must unexpectedly pay a large bill:

  • Could you ask for a payment plan?
  • Could you consider a low-interest credit card?
     

You don’t have to wait to prepare for the unexpected. Getting a grip on your finances and having an emergency fund savings plan based on what’s feasible can be your starting point.

 

Find the right U.S. Bank savings account option for building your emergency fund.

Related content

How compound interest works

How to talk to your lender about debt

How grandparents can contribute to college funds instead of buying gifts

Financial checklist: Preparing for military deployment

U.S. Bank asks: Transitioning out of college life? What’s next?

How to financially prepare for a military PCS

Should you buy now, pay later?

Friction: How it can help achieve money goals

Retirement planning strategies for dual-income families

6 common money mistakes to avoid

5 times you may need a financial advisor

A who’s who at your local bank

For today's homebuyers, time and money are everything

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

Understanding guardianship and power of attorney in banking

How to use debt to build wealth

Achieving their dreams through a pre-apprenticeship construction program

Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce

7 year-end tax planning tips

How to prepare for healthcare costs in retirement

How much life insurance do I need?

3 types of insurance you shouldn’t ignore

8 steps to choosing a health insurance plan

The connection between your health and financial well-being

Is a Health Savings Account missing from your retirement plan?

7 things to know about long-term care insurance

How to winterize your vehicle

Is your employer long term disability insurance enough?

How I did it: Deciding whether to buy an RV

Take the stress out of buying your teen a car

Financial steps to take after the death of a spouse

Retirement planning in the gig economy

How to decide when to shop local and when to shop online

Retirement expectations quiz

4 steps to finding a charity to support

Estate planning documents: Living trusts vs. will vs. living will

Stay on budget — and on the go — with a mobile banking app

Unexpected retirement expenses

Year-end financial checklist

Checklist: financial recovery after a natural disaster

What financial advice would you give your younger self?

How I kicked my online shopping habit and got my spending under control

Credit: Do you understand it?

How to open and invest in a 529 plan

How to manage your money when you're self-employed

Personal loans first-timer's guide: 7 questions to ask

How I did it: Bought a home without a 20 percent down payment

Starting your homebuying journey: Tips from a U.S. Bank Goals Coach

Working with an accountability partner can help you reach your goals

How to stay positive when searching for a job: advice from a U.S. Bank goals coach

House Hacks: How buying an investment property worked as my first home

How to set yourself up for success in your first job

Growing your savings by going on a ‘money hunt’

How to build wealth at any age

Travel for less: Smart (not cheap) ways to spend less on your next trip

Working after retirement: Factors to consider

7 ways for pre-retirees to get ready for retirement

Multiple accounts can make it easier to follow a monthly budget

You can take these 18 budgeting tips straight to the bank

Certificates of deposit: How they work to grow your money

9 simple ways to save

Are savings bonds still a thing?

Financial gifts can be a valuable – and fun – choice for the holidays

How I did it: Learned to budget as a single mom

Key milestone ages as you near and start retirement

How to stop living paycheck to paycheck post-pay increase

Do your investments match your financial goals?

5 financial goals for the new year

Money Moments: Tips for selling your home

Parent checklist: Preparing for college

Which is better: Combining bank accounts before marriage — or after?

Does your savings plan match your lifestyle?

Don’t underestimate the importance of balancing your checking account

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

Is it time to get a shared bank account with your partner?

Checking and savings smarts: Make your accounts work harder for you

LGBTQ+ financial planning: 7 reasons why it matters

Should rising interest rates change your financial priorities?

Should I itemize my taxes?

Saving vs. investing: What's the difference?

Reviewing your beneficiaries: A 5-step guide

How to cut mindless spending: real tips from real people

Retirement income planning: 4 steps to take

LGBTQ+ retirement planning: What you need to know

Your 4-step guide to financial planning

What to do when you lose your job

Using 529 plans for K-12 tuition

How to retire happy

How to protect your digital assets in your estate plan

Can fantasy football make you a better investor?

Insource or outsource? 10 considerations

Investment strategies by age

Investing for beginners

Annual insurance review checklist

6 tips on trust fund distributions to beneficiaries

How to track your spending patterns

How to manage your money: 6 steps to take

How to discuss money with your family

Good debt vs. bad debt: Know the difference

How to establish your business credit score

Key components of a financial plan

4 tips to help you save for retirement in your 20s

4 reasons estate planning is important

4 financial considerations before changing jobs

Unexpected cost savings may be hiding in your payment strategy

Checklist: 10 questions to ask your home inspector

5 things to avoid that can devalue your home

Webinar: 5 myths about emergency funds

Webinar: Common budget mistakes (and how to avoid them)

5 things to consider when deciding to take an unplanned trip

30-day adulting challenge: Financial wellness tasks to complete in a month

5 myths about emergency funds

5 reasons why couples may have separate bank accounts

7 steps: How couples and single parents can prepare for child care costs

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

Allowance basics for parents and kids

Common unexpected expenses and three ways to pay for them

Dear Money Mentor: How do I set and track financial goals?

Finding a side gig to fund your goals

Helpful tips for safe and smart charitable giving

What you need to know about renting

Tips for working in the gig economy

How and when to ask for a raise

How can I help my student manage money?

5 tips for parents opening a bank account for kids

6 pandemic money habits keep for long term

How having savings gives you peace of mind

How to best handle unexpected expenses

How to manage money in the military: A veteran weighs in

How to save for a wedding

How to save money while helping the environment

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

Money Moments: 3 smart financial strategies when caring for aging parents

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

Stay committed goals creating positive habits

The mobile app to download before summer vacation

Tips to overcome three common savings hurdles

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Wedding

Webinar: Uncover the cost: International trip

What military service taught me about money management

Your guide to starting a job: Resources to help along the way

Building a financial legacy for your family and community

First-timer’s guide to savings account alternatives

How to increase your savings

It’s time for a fresh start: A new way of thinking

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know what an overdraft is?

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know your finances?

Money Moments: 8 dos and don’ts for saving money in your 30s

Money Moments: How to manage your finances after a divorce

Myths vs. facts about savings account interest rates

Bank from home with these digital features

Money Moments: 3 tips for planning an extended leave of absence

Practical money tips we've learned from our dads

3 awkward situations Zelle can help avoid

What’s in your emergency fund?

Tips to raise financially healthy kids at every age

Money management guide to financial independence

5 ways to spring clean your finances and save money year-round

Spring cleaning checklist for your home: 5 budget-boosting tasks

Saving for a down payment: Where should I keep my money?

Your guide to breaking the rental cycle

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Building a home

4 ways to free up your budget (and your life) with a smaller home

How I did it: My house remodel

Are professional movers worth the cost?

10 questions to ask when hiring a contractor

10 ways to increase your home’s curb appeal

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Home renovation

Beyond the mortgage: Other costs for homeowners

How to Adult: 7 tax terms and concepts you should know

How to Adult: 5 ways to track your spending

Tips for navigating a medical hardship when you’re unable to work

3 steps to prepare for a medical emergency

Family planning for the LGBTQ+ community

11 essential things to do before baby comes

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Starting a family

Preparing for adoption and IVF

How to plan and save for adoption and in vitro fertility treatment costs

Closing on a house checklist for buyers

Resources for managing financial matters after an unexpected death

What you need to know as the executor of an estate

What documents do you need after a loved one dies?

How to prepare for a natural disaster

College budgeting: When to save and splurge

Student checklist: Preparing for college

Webinar: Uncover the cost: College diploma

How to save money in college: easy ways to spend less

Checklist: How to gain financial independence from your parents

The A to Z’s of college loan terms

Co-signing 101: Applying for a loan with co-borrower

Practical money skills and financial tips for college students

How to build credit as a student

5 things to know before accepting a first job offer

How I did it: Paid off student loans

Webinar: Bank Notes: College cost comparison

From LLC to S-corp: Choosing a small business entity

5 tips for seniors to stay a step ahead of schemers

Recognize. React. Report. Caregivers can help protect against financial exploitation

Identity stolen? 5 steps to take immediately

How you can prevent identity theft

Webinar: U.S. Bank asks: Are you safe from fraud?

7 steps to keep your personal and business finances separate

How to use your unexpected windfall to reach financial goals

U.S. Bank asks: What do you know about credit?

Is a home equity loan for college the right choice for your student

How to apply for federal student aid through the FAFSA

Be careful when taking out student loans

Your financial aid guide: What are your options?

Dear Money Mentor: How do I pick a savings or checking account?

Military homeownership: Your guide to resources, financing and more

Crypto + Homebuying: Impacts on the real estate market

Comparing term vs. permanent life insurance

Webinar: Mindset Matters: How to practice mindful spending

Webinar: ESG for Corporations: Building an all-weather, long-lasting strategy

Common pitfalls to avoid in the equipment financing process

The secret to successful service provider integration

Consolidating debts: Pros and cons to keep in mind

Webinar: Smart habits and behaviors to achieve financial wellness

What I learned from my mom about money

I own two electric vehicles. Here’s what I’ve learned about buying and driving EVs.

Car shopping Buying versus leasing your next vehicle

Questions to ask before buying a car

What you should know about buying a car

Improving your credit score: Truth and myths revealed

CancelSave & Close Planning self-care moments that matter (and how to finance them)

How I did it: Turned my side hustle into a full-time job

How to get started creating your business plan

Talent acquisition 101: Building a small business dream team

Make your business legit

7 tips to help grow your business after launch

How to test new business ideas

Costs to consider when starting a business

How to redefine challenges with business collaboration

How to sell your business without emotions getting in the way

5 steps to take before transitioning your business

10 tips on how to run a successful family business

The costs of hiring a new employee

How to expand your business: Does a new location make sense?

How to choose the right business savings account

Does your side business need a separate bank account?

How to build a content team

Finance or operating lease? Deciphering the legalese of equipment finance

Buying or leasing? Questions to ask before signing a contract

Safeguarding the payment experience through contactless

ABCs of ARP: Answers to American Rescue Plan questions for counties

How to improve your business network security

Should you buy a house that’s still under construction?

COVID-19 safety recommendations: Are you ready to reopen?

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rate and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.

U.S. Bank is not responsible for and does not guarantee the products, services or performance of U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc.