By Younas Chaudhary
In rural Pakistan in the 1960’s, villagers and farmers stored a sufficient portion of their annual wheat harvest in bins inside their homes. These storage bins were made from clay and cow dung. Filled with sun-dried wheat, they were an emergency food reserve until the next harvest as nobody could predict if it would rain the next season. This was a matter of life and death, as without enough stocks of wheat they would perish if an extended drought came.
Fast forward six decades later, only 4 in 10 people in the most prosperous country on earth, the USA, have $1,000 in an emergency savings fund to take care of an unplanned expense! “The reliance on borrowing is still high, with more than one-third of households having to turn to a credit card, personal loan, or family and friends in the face of unplanned expenses,” a survey from Bankrate said.
Farmers in remote villages had no banks, no apps, nor any financial instruments. They had the common sense to have an emergency reserve (food stored in clay bins) to save them from disaster.
As I began my career, I thought deeply about how simple rural folks thought ahead and planned for their future ready to tackle an emergency. So, irrespective of whether I made $1,000 or $100,000 a month, I always kept a certain amount of money in an emergency fund. I knew I had to store enough wheat until the next harvest season!
Like a farmer who replenished his emergency stocks of wheat, I managed my emergency fund in a similar fashion. I made it a point to top it with sufficient funds in case I had a true emergency.
Emergencies came to me in unexpected ways! While owning a home in Wichita, my air conditioner broke during a hot summer and the repair cost was huge. My emergency fund took care of the repair and my family did not have to suffer the hot weather.
Home repairs, car problems, medical emergencies- throughout our lives an emergency expense always comes up. An emergency fund acts as a buffer,an area of refuge that can help us in true need.
Everyone should have cash at hand in an emergency fund, especially if you are a single income family. You can easily build an emergency fund slowly over time until it reaches between four and nine months of your overall household expenses.
When I started creating one, I also gave a certain amount of cash to my wife without even counting the money and told her to keep it in a separate safe place as it was our second emergency fund. Today, we have numerous ways to keep our emergency funds and easy access to use it when and if truly needed.
Over the years, I have learned that to keep and maintain an emergency fund you must be disciplined, consistent, and honest with yourself. You should know how to resist temptation and not use the money for non-emergency purposes. Further, once you withdraw money from an emergency fund, it is important to immediately replenish it fully so that you can be confident to meet any next unplanned expense.
With will power along with a bit of common sense and the desire to help your own family, I guarantee you, starting an emergency fund today will help you face the future with confidence. Why wait? Start your emergency fund today! Blessings.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.