Importance of an Emergency Fund

Throughout my long working career as an advertising writer and journalist, I always managed to earn enough income to provide for my family’s financial needs. However, no matter how much I brought home on payday, it never seemed to cover unexpected expenses, especially when those inevitable emergencies occurred.

For example, after one particularly costly home roof repair that devastated our bank account, I decided to prepare for future emergencies. I would create a special fund by finding an additional source of income. I would use my spare time and editorial experience constructively to become an online freelance writer. If I could be successful in that endeavor, that extra income would help establish and build a family emergency fund.  

After some research, I found there are many opportunities to earn money by writing for online sites, and I was soon sending in examples of my work. Soon I was succeeding to build up that emergency fund with the extra income I earned by nightly efforts on my computer. Then, inevitably, Murphy’s Law took over, and it crushed my plans to use the emergency funds. I wanted the money to be for fun family extras, such as dinners out, movies, concerts and ball game tickets.

However, it didn’t happen that way. For example, whenever I received a check for $300 for a freelance job, immediately a new kids’ wardrobe for school season would cost exactly $300. If I earned $500 for some other online articles I’d sold, a repair that suddenly became necessary on the family car would inevitably cost exactly $500.  

However, I could always look at the positive side of earning extra money for an emergency fund. Without the freelance money, those unexpected bills would have required taking money out of my regular earnings, and that could have meant cutbacks in other areas of family spending.

As my experience has taught me, establishing an emergency fund for unexpected expenses is more than just a convenience. Often it is needed for paying sudden bills or to settle obligations that must be met quickly.

For example, we were invited by my employer on a weekend business and pleasure cruise from a nearby port. My expenses were covered, but if I wanted my spouse to attend, I needed a quick $500 for my spouse’s cruise fee and another $100 for a two-night babysitter.

Can you guess what the exact total was in my emergency fund at that very moment?